Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year-end Tech Talk

Tonight's Katkam Sunset...

The same view at noon today.

Everything old is new again - almost.

All these 'social media' programs are very convenient, but they also share an obviously lack of privacy, and anything on there is seen and heard by the world at large if they tune in. So our 'old-fashioned' email will continue to be popular for anything which we don't want the whole world accessing.

Feliz Año Nuevo!

When the Doctor's away, you're healthier!

I can easily believe this. After my last hospitalization a couple of years back, I was put on some new drugs, one of which was Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) for controlling possible blood-clotting due to atrial fibrillation. In the first place, I didn't go to the hospital because of ongoing heart problems, I went because I had difficulty breathing because of pneumonia. This other stuff was discovered by a hotshot young assistant to the resident cardiologist, on a fishing expedition during which I had an ultrasound imaging of the heart, following which our boy decided to put me on Xarelto. 

Xarelto is expensive, and it has some nasty side-effects, including things like large 'blood blisters' inside my cheeks and upper lip, and tests revealed that I was also showing occult blood in samples of urine and feces. So this Xarelto was thinning my blood a little too much, and I was losing some of it where I normally would not. When I discovered this, I promptly quit the Xarelto, waited about a month and a half to be sure it had all cleared out of my system, and then got another set of tests for that occult blood. Results were negative, and my vitals are reading quite normally without it. As in 117/68 with a rate of 69, or 119/57 with a rate of 63. Most 80-somethings like me would consider those numbers just about ideal, and not many of us have them.

I should add that I'm still on Bisoprolol, the beta blocker which acts to regulate the heart's built-in timer, and indirectly by doing so, controlling the BP, and it seems to be a lot more useful than the Xarelto. And it's a lot cheaper, too.

So what do I recommend? Get yourself the latest version of The Merck Manual, now being called The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook (formerly The Merck Manual of Medical Information) and avail yourself of a "second opinion" or maybe a first opinion...just because... Because doctors bury their mistakes!

The $2,500 light bulb...

Offhand, I'd say this is a solution for which there was no problem. Before I'd pay $2,500 for a light, I'd go back to candles and kerosene lanterns and spend the savings on good whiskey. 

As an old retired electrician, I have to agree with him  on one point: heat has always been the enemy of light-bulbs, especially incandescents, which, for some reason, designers have always tried to contain within fixtures having very little or no ventilation whatever. The hotter such a light has to operate, the shorter its lifespan, and we've known this ever since the invention of light bulb number one. And as the filament slowly vaporizes from the intense heat, it plates the inside of the bulb with a microscopic film of metal and combustion products, slowly blocking the emission of full brightness, and that's why old bulbs look darker and don't deliver as much light. And we've known that for a hundred years or so too.

Compact fluorescents and LEDs are improvements on the old tungsten-filament bulbs that got hotter than hell and burnt out relatively rapidly. Mercury-vapor bulbs also last longer, but they don't operate well in sub-zero tempertures, because they require a certain minimum ignition temperature that isn't always attainable if the ambient temperature is far below zero. Street lights in the far north sometimes will not re-light if extinguished in severely cold weather.

Mercury-vapor half-wave rectifiers have been used for many years as a means of converting alternating current into direct current for use by trolley and subway systems in major cities around the world. The originals of these rectifiers were made of glass, with 'arms' onto which electrodes were connected, and a pool of mercury in the base which was vaporized with the aid of a striker contact operated by a solenoid. The arms, coupled with the bluish flickering light emitted during operation, made these look like some kind of science-fiction monster gone wrong, but they delivered plenty of power for the trolley system for many years. They were only replaced with newer devices because the last two old gentlemen in England, where these special glass bulbs were made had reached retirement age, and there was no one to take their places. Or so the story goes. And that was the end of an era, for sure. You had to see one of those glass-tube mercury-vapor recifiers in operation to really appreciate what a chore it would be to create that glass container. They were about three feet high and about as wide, with their three 'arms' on the sides, and sat on a special base. And they looked really weird with a dancing arc moving around on the surface of the pool of mercury in the base. Like they belonged in a Frankenstein movie.... But they really worked!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Zooming in on the hills today...

The last two are at the full 42X on a Nikon Coolpix P510, and this is the first real snow those hills have received so far. It hasn't been a great snow season so far.

New Desktop ready for use...

With the outer corners rounded off to make it safer for old people walking past. The image on the screen is from the observation lounge of the Mori Tower in downtown Tokyo.

Times are really tough when.... have to "go porno" to get a little attention! And Miley obviously isn't aware that the nipple has been "free" since before we climbed down from the trees and started walking upright on our hind legs. Have you ever seen someone without any? There's usually twice as many of them as there are arseholes, and God knows, we've certainly got enough of those!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

And here's today's Top Ten...

New Desktop...

...Not on the computer, but on the desk itself, so there's more room to work with the Wacom Tablet (just left of the screen's base) and spread out my stuff, so I can doodle in comfort...

On the old desk, there wasn't space enough to rest my arm properly while using the Pen Tablet, so I could never really enjoy working with it, and it really is a very handy accessory - not just for acting silly, like the above, but for serious editing of images....

Like this one that Kylie Minogue caught flak for, because the prudes objected to it on racist grounds. I don't think that was it at all - I think it was because her "desk" was showing a bit too much "enthusiasm", which I've edited some here. But being that close to a scantily-clad Kylie, who could really blame the guy? Anyhooo.... this is what my Wacom Tablet is really meant to do. Seriously.

Windows 8.1 - Another little hint...

If you're using Windows 8.1 and you are for example reading a news App and you happen to move the mouse pointer down into the zone where your taskbar is normally located, and suddenly, that taskbar magically re-appears, and you don't know why, because you haven't set it to automatically hide itself, and even if you had, it shouldn't be showing up in these conditions, here's why, and how you can fix it....

To see this little window, right-click an empty area of your Taskbar and choose "Properties" down at the bottom of the list. In its Default condition, this window does not have a check-mark in the box for "Auto-hide the taskbar" so why is it suddenly seeming to behave as if it had a check-mark in that box?

Because: Down further, there's another item "Show Windows Store apps on the Taskbar." This is one of the "improvements" in Windows 8.1, and it comes with its check-mark already in the box. So you get surprised by your taskbar appearing when you didn't expect it, because Mighty Microsoft is apparently starving to death to the point where they are willing to risk our displeasure rather than miss an opportunity to once again hustle us for a buck. You have to be aware of this, and remove that little check-mark from the box to stop that taskbar popping up when you hadn't expected or wanted it, and you wouldn't know this unless someone points this out. And that someone would be me... 

Just for the record, here's that same Taskbar Properties window in Windows 8, and as you see, there's nothing about showing Windows Store Apps on the Taskbar, or anywhere else. That's because back in Windows 8, we know where to find our Apps, and we don't need to be beaten over the head with them.... so today's Question Everything is:- "Isn't Progress wonderful? Don't you love it?"

Clouds make nice backgrounds...

A nice shot of the sky full of clouds makes a relatively relaxing background for the screen. Much less distracting than an image of some hot young lovely busy trying to find something to wear.  Or at least I think that's what she's doing... you see, it's like this: I got most of my sex education from Playboy, because I was one of its original subscribers back in 1953. And don't I wish I'd taken better care of some of those early issues, now worth hundreds of dollars each as collector's items. 

And that, by the way, puzzles me. Why? Let my exotic dancer friend Kate tell you in her own words, just as she once told me: "I don't understand you guys - you sit there, in 'gynecology row' slobbering over something you know damned well you'll never get your hands on, like you've never seen anything like it, and let's face it - they haven't changed the design of this model in 500,000 years!"

Saturday, December 27, 2014

That external hard-drive...

You may already have discovered this, but I'll mention it anyway - an external hard-drive can double the capacity of your existing hard-drive, but you can't use it to install more operating systems. That's because it's connected by USB and that's too slow for normal operations in an operating system. And Windows will tell you that you can't install one of their operating systems on a removable device. That would make it entirely too portable and probably too handy, and they wouldn't be able to keep track of your MAC Address, because that would change whenever you plugged it into another computer - and that's probably the real reason it's a 'no-no'. Licensing problems. 

They could solve that by giving each portable drive a special boot sector which would include its own MAC Address, but nobody's thought of that yet....or if they have, they aren't doing it. Perhaps because it would be too much like the Remote Access already in use. In other words, complicated and a security risk.

Too bad - I could have three more operating systems on here, if it worked... and computers still have further improvements to be reached. I tried this, because I'd like to be able to install the test beta of Win-10 on its own separate drive, so that it wouldn't have to interact with the rest of my systems in order to do its own thing. I'm not too happy about the way it grabs control of the main Boot Sector and subordinates everything else under it. It's just a test program, after all, so why should I trust it to manage other operating systems' booting control? For me, that just doesn't make sense. That's like letting an inexperienced kid drive the bus for you.

Friday, December 26, 2014

When installing Windows: Another 'essential'...

Here's another little program that I consider an essential when outfitting Windows with all my favorite 'freebies'... CPUID HWMonitor.... It gives you the story on voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures inside the box, and if you look down the list of voltages to 'VBat', that's your CMOS Battery, without which you can't boot Old Faithful, so keep an eye on that one.

If you'd like a copy of this program, please click this link.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Let's talk some more Windows....

Are you showing high usage for your CPU?  Like over 50 percent while seemingly nothing is happening except your usual background features? And do you have Avast Internet Security running? And did you think you were having a problem in Windows? OK - it isn't a Windows problem! It's your Avast!!

Here's why your CPU is running at over fifty percent while nothing's happening! "So what the hell is this 'NG' anyway?" I hear you asking. Please read on.....

But to do this, it has to monopolize use of your available RAM - I have four gigs of it installed - and this means over half of my available RAM is going to this feature, to provide virtualization services that I neither need nor want, and this feature is automatically installed along with others when you install Avast. So what can we do about this? Please read on....

Go into Control Panel - Programs and Features, and right-click on your listing for Avast, and then instead of choosing 'Uninstall' choose 'Change', and when this window (above) is displayed, just remove that check from the box for 'NG'.... (Does 'NG' really mean 'No Good'???) and then do a Reboot (that's 'Restart' to you, Virginia...) and you will notice a remarkable drop in the total RAM use. It will once again return to where it should have been before Avast got creative and messed it all up! Avast is going to try one more of these half-assed screw-ups, and I'm going to scrap it forever. And you should too! Because: It is becoming more of a problem than a solution, and a damned expensive one at that. And you may quote me. In fact, please do! Am I 'pissed off'? YES! I bought this goddamned mess to make life better, not worse, and I don't enjoy spending an hour tracking down fuck-ups it created in my formerly smooth-running system. 

And I apologize to Microsoft for thinking, incorrectly, that it might have been a Windows problem. This was the same problem I was having while testing the Windows Technical Preview of Win-10 a couple of weeks ago, and this was why I had dumped it at the time. I was wrong to do that, and again, I apologize for blaming the wrong people for this problem. And I will try to be more diligent doing my 'homework' from now on...

I wrote these folks a fan letter...

These folks are still doing milk like I remember it from long ago - in real glass bottles, with its cream still on top. Nothing removed but the cow! I love it!

Nat King Cole - Away in a Manger

I hope you're having an enjoyable Christmas, and...

...I have a couple of comments about things mentioned lately here. First of all, that item I said was found by Malwarebytes and removed - it wasn't. After a short delay, and after removing about ten instances of it the first time around, another scan showed four more. This time, before simply punching the "delete" button, I read the filename information.

It had installed itself into a protected folder inside my User's\AppData\Roaming folder, and even with Admin privileges I couldn't remove it. Inside that protected folder were about ten instances of other files for pop-ups and browser redirects and other nasty and impolite things I didn't want. That means "war", as Bugs Bunny might say.

So I once again downloaded a fresh copy of Emco's MoveOnBoot from my friends in Iceland and set it to "delete folder" and "Restart Windows immediately" and that's how I finally got rid of "Spigot" and all its little pals.
And once again, thanks to Igor and the folks at Emco for their great program.

Also recently, I was singing the praises of that local dairy and its real milk. I meant to add that on the cap, all it says is "Whole Milk". It doesn't say anything about three and a half percent, or whatever. The only thing removed from this milk was the cow! And I hope she's alive and well... When I opened it, I couldn't pour the milk until I had spooned out the cream on top of it. That's the kind of milk I remember from my childhood! And it's absolutely delicious. It's more expensive, but definitely worth it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dave Brubeck Quartet - Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town


Joseph Byrd-Carol of the Bells

The Ventures Christmas Album [Full Album] 1965

The Gunter Kallmann Choir - Christmas Sing-In (Full Album)

Ray Conniff & the Ray Connif Singers - We wish you a merry christmas (Fu...

BONEY M - Christmas Album 1981 (video album)

Klaus Wunderlich Lover

Gigi - The Night They Invented Champagne - Leslie Caron 's own voice

Maurice Chevalier - Thank Heavens For Little Girls From The Film Gigi

Linda Ronstadt - Sophisticated Lady

The L.A. 4 - Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte (full album - HQ)

Space Art-Ode a Clavius 1977

Space Art - Onyx (1976)

Quartz - Quartz

Klaus Wunderlich Corn Flakes

Klaus Wunderlich Krimoogulus

The snow report

Le ski ne est pas facile et la planche à neige encore pire.

Top Ten d'aujourd'hui

Comment suis-je devenu si populaire en France? Je ne ai pas même «Parlez-vous« très bien sans utiliser Google Translate, comme mon ami Pascal au Liban peux témoigner. Joyeux Noel à tous!

Why I like Malwarebytes...

Here's a good example of what I meant by saying this program finds things that others miss... This has a feature called "Chameleon" that runs when nothing else can, and it can find and fix problems with malware that might slip past the other detection systems. Here it is in action. I ran it because I saw a lot of unusual activity on my CPU Usage Meter, and something had hijacked my Google Search in Firefox, and switched it to Yahoo. I never use Yahoo, so that told me for sure something was going on...and this found it.

Malwarebytes has a freebie version, but I recommend the Premium one, because it has real-time protection, as well as other features. And it works!

It's never Christmas at 3:30 a.m.

Those of us who are older, and have a need to confirm the existence of the bathroom around three in the mornings, know these things. We look out our windows at what had been a festively lit up neighborhood earlier in the evening, and we see just the usual dark and soggy-looking almost longest night of the year. Our energy-conscious part time festives are conserving their power for better times, when impressing their neighbors may actually include neighbors who are alive and well and above all awake. (Sometimes 'awake' is an optimistic appraisal...) But my point is, it's dark out there, and not very Christmasy.

Even our resident billionaire, Jimmy Pattison, up there on Snob Hill with a spread like a small village, and his lights trimming that almost-block-long home in red outlines, and that huge and overly-bright Star of Bethlehem on a pole above one end of it, connected to his roof with strings of blue lights, implying he's somehow God's Chosen Capitalist turns off his glorious display at midnight. Three cheers for power conservation. The lights in that star of his are so bright, you can't make out the shape of the star from a distance at all - it's just one huge blinding white light, and since one of his 65 companies is a signs outfit, you'd think he'd be more aware of the effect produced by all that egoism.

If I were Santa Claus, I'd be sure to stop at Jimmy's place, just so the reindeer could relieve themselves in his gutters...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I went shopping tonight...

After avoiding footwear and staying quiet for two days, because I broke my little toe two mornings ago, in a rush to the bathroom, I finally had to go for some groceries. I got to the milk cooler only to discover no milk! Our national dairy guys didn't deliver any today, I'm told. But fortunately we still have our old reliable local dairy, and it still does things the old-fashioned way, and regularly... and it's a local historic site, too. You can whip their cream, but you can't beat their milk!

That's a real glass returnable bottle, on which there's a $1.00 deposit!

Klaus Wunderlich - Christmas With Klaus

A little relaxing music....

If this great classic doesn't grab you, you're just not a music lover! And this beats the hell out of Jingle Bells... This would make a good national anthem.
Maybe then, people wouldn't forget the words on opening day of the World Series, or the start of the Superbowl. 

Still adding to Windows 8.1

Before I removed it, I made a Windows Theme from some of the backgrounds in PC-BSD 10, and this is one of those. I've been busy this afternoon, transferring themes from other Windows O/Ss on here, so this will have an assortment too. The assortment being 27 themes as I write this. You can make and add themes into Windows 8.1 the same as you did for Windows 8 or Windows 7.

About PC-BSD... ( a short comment )

For those who have been interested in my postings about PC-BSD, I'd like to say that it really is a nice program, and I like it - but its boot loader doesn't play nice with the one in Windows, and I've had problems getting that working. I wish the folks who are working on PC-BSD would make their boot loader more compatible with the one in Windows.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Another Must-Have: Winroll

Image Resizer For Windows (Still equipping Windows 8.1)

Microsoft has one. This isn't it. This one restores the convenience we had in Windows XP with its Image Resizer Powertoy, and it's another fabulous freebie you can get here, and you should!

Here's its configuration window, where you choose how you want it to work....

And here's your right-click menu after you've installed it and it's ready to go. Now, wouldn't you really rather have this one, instead of the Microsoft version that has you holding down a couple of keys on the keyboard, while you're trying to scratch your itchy nose or answer the phone while resizing images? Sure you would - be honest - so just go download it, and install it. I won't tell Microsoft!

Today's Top Ten

Attention, Multi-booters....

If you've been re-formatting and re-installing operating systems on two or three or more partitions of your hard-drive, and have ended up with only the old original white wording on a black background in your opening Boot Screen, and you would prefer to have the newer Windows Boot Manager screen with its nice light blue background and white text for its selections, and what you've tried so far with Command Prompt in Admin mode hasn't worked, for some reason, then try this:-

Download and install the latest free version of EasyBCD from here and then navigate to its "Useful Utilities" (in the next window) and choose "EasyBCD Power Console". Open that, (looks like a mini-CMD Prompt) and at the blinking cursor, type in "BCDBoot C:\Windows" and press "Enter". - The very same thing you tried in your regular Command Prompt, but it didn't work there. However, for some mysterious reason known only to the folks at Neosmart, it works here! The next time you do a Reboot (which should be right away!) you'll get your desired modern GUI for the Boot Screen selections. 

Trouble in Paradise: "Spring Cleaning"...

I wish Pope Francis every success, because there's obviously centuries worth of dust and calcification and skullduggery to be re-examined and swept aside. But I have to wonder who will win... His Holiness, or those hordes of self-interested and self-serving minions who pay lip service to beliefs they make a mockery of every day, while the rich get richer, and the poor go forth to multiply us right off the home planet?

Today's Question Everything should be: "What is the real purpose of religion, and how much of it do we need in order to properly connect us with our God?" Does it take a vast hierarchy of pretentiously pious priests and prelacy? Or only the fervent and sincere hope and prayer that we may somehow be one with our Creator, and forgiven for our transgressions? Beyond the obvious "Show and Tell" there is a whole other thing going on, if we're in the right frame of mind to connect with it, and if we are, then we don't need that "Show and Tell". 

Ever since the days of ancient Egypt, we have been told to go into our room, and lock the door, and say our prayers in secret, that we may be rewarded openly. We have never been told to make a pompous public display of our devotion, because those who do have already received their rewards.

The Quantum World: Uncertainty...

All this may not be exactly what it seems. It's almost surely not, otherwise we wouldn't be referring to it in terms like "The Uncertainty Principle".... so let's take another look, shall we?

Are these perhaps two intermingling sine waves moving in an electromagnetic field of toroidal configuration...?

Or, are we looking at a larger and a smaller object orbiting about a common axis while also moving rapidly in an axial direction, and then entering the event horizon of a 'black hole' while accelerating in a direct line along that axis...??? And that, oversimplified, is an impression of "The Uncertainty Principle".... What we're looking at may not be what we're seeing....