Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunset panorama

Click this one to enlarge it - it's worth it! Microsoft Research's Image Composite Editor does a wonderful job! I absolutely love it! And I'd be lost without it. And "Yes, Virginia, only God can do a sunset like this. I just copy it for you."

That Registry Shortcut on the Desktop.... made the very same way in Windows 8.1 64-bit.

Windows 10: Make a Desktop Shortcut to Registry Editor

I save a lot of screenshots, so I'm constantly going into Regedit to reset their counter after I delete the latest batch to make more room in the folder.

You make the shortcut in the usual way, right-clicking on the Desktop in an open space, selecting 'New' and then 'Shortcut', and when the little window opens, asking the location you need to fill in, this is where you need to be careful, because it isn't called 'Regedit' or even 'Regedit32' - they've left out one letter in that latter name, just to throw us off. So the spelling is critical, and it goes like this: 'Regedt32.exe', so in the location box of the little window, type in: C:\Windows\System32\Regedt32.exe and then continue on, to give it a name in the next little window. When I did all this, the blank generic icon that was there changed to this one shown and I kept this abbreviated name of it which Windows provided.

There are Old Bikers, and Bold Bikers, but no Old Bold Bikers...

PSSSTT! - Wanna buy a used mountain bike? Cheap? Did I mention it's bent? And in Switzerland? Today's 'Question Everything' is: "Why do the bikers with the balls get the crossbar?" What could possibly be wrong with that picture?

Windows 10: The 'Edge' Browser...

Another self-styled 'expert' weighs in on Microsoft's new 'Edge' browser, and to read the full article, please click here.

I haven't got very far figuring mine out, so I'll have to refrain from comment for now. "Why?" you ask, "You're certainly full of ....comment about everything else!" Yes, you Dear, Sweet Reader you, I am usually 'full of it', and that's why I have this blog, but there's another story here. I've got an AMD Processor, and Microsoft and AMD haven't yet come out with an updated driver set for AMD Processors working with an Edge browser, and this means it is subject to possibly frequent 'crashes', so say Microsoft. Mine hasn't crashed yet, but just to be on the safe side, I'm not using Edge as my default browser.

And speaking of browsers, may I suggest having two or possibly three of them installed? Again, "Why?" you ask. Because: while you're working in one of them, and suddenly want to go on the web for a reference or a search for something else, it's really nice to be able to simply click or tap another browser's icon and have it open for your use, without disturbing whatever you had going on that first one. Comprenez-vous, ma chère?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Windows 10: The new Calendar

Harry Chapin - Cats in the Cradle

Today's Top Ten....

Not my best numbers ever, but my excuse is, I've been distracted lately with installing and checking out Windows 10's newest build, 10122, and also with some back-and-forth on Facebook with friends and relations.

The big news in this "top ten" is the entry for Lebanon, and I want to say a special welcome to Dr. Pascal Rassi and his friends there. Nice to have you with us. And Pascal, I did take your advice about the insomnia, and I got a really good sleep last night, and I'm feeling much better today - thank you!

Earlier today, before being distracted by Facebook

Friday, May 29, 2015

Trying Build 10122 - Windows 10 Pro

This new Web Note is a winner! I'm using a flat screen 30-inch TV as a monitor, so I don't have touch - but I do have a Wacom Pen Tablet, and it works fine! See for yourself - I doodled all over the page above. It's fun. You should try it.

The Desktop, with my own Theme installed, and Winamp's "Windowblind" mode up along the top edge, streaming 'Jazz24' from - Lookin' good!

About 5:00 a.m.

I had trouble getting a focus this morning, for some reason, and this was the best of three tries. Maybe there wasn't enough light.

Last evening's sunset

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Arthur Mometer around 5:30 pm....

In the news: I feel a rant coming on; a short one.

Ah, The Vatican. "Go forth and multiply!" they say; "Don't you dare use any kind of birth control except 'The Rhythm Method' " they say. On this, the Vatican't. As the little old Italian lady with a house full of kids said, in response to all that, "You no play da game, you no make-a da rules!"

The Catholic Church and its teachings on family planning or the lack thereof has been largely responsible for this population explosion which has seen the world population triple within my lifetime of 82 years, 6 months. And if that doesn't give you something to think about, I really feel for you. In this eighty-two and half years, since 1932, the population of the world has increased from about 2.4 billions to about 7.3 billions (World Population Clock = 7,318,049,900) today.

Fortunately, my Irish relatives can count to more than 21 without taking their pants off. And they know that every kind of vehicle, the earth included, has its passenger limits, after which all Hell breaks loose. End of rant!

Count Basie - Jada

Ja Da - A Steam Jazz Band

Erroll Garner - Ja da

Oscar Peterson - Ja Da

Re-installing Windows: a couple of comments...

It's easy, if you have the installation DVD, and if you haven't, there's help... Let's give you an example. Yesterday, I met Steve, our on-site Maintenance Man, who had just come out of a next-door apartment, diagnosing a plumbing problem. Steve asked, "Hey, Ray - you're handy with computers - how can I get a copy of XP Pro with its updates, to put into an old single-core Pentium-4 PC that I found in the big bin, and looking OK...?" And I said, "Let me look on the web for you, and see what I can find, and I'll get back to you." I looked on the web, and here's what I found:-

This website has all sorts of free downloads, including full operating systems, but without the required key codes, because, as they so rightly say, Microsoft would only nullify those anyway, and if you need a code, and you will, then just buy one like the rest of us do.

Anyway, I found that they have an .iso of XP Professional, with its SP3, and also with its updates to November of 2013, and also including SATA drivers. So I downloaded that .iso, burnt it to disc with ImgBurn, and gave it to my friend. He already has key codes for it, he says, so that ought to solve his problem. Maybe. There's also the problem, of course, that XP is no longer supported, and this means a security problem possibly. But there are solutions for that one.

Re-installing Windows, in my case most recently, Windows 8.1 64-bit, the big nuisance for me is not the installation itself, but replacing all my third-party programs collected from hither and yon. With three operating systems on here, it's easy to go into another one, and drag-and-drop a program from it onto the desktop of the newly re-installed one. That's great for getting something going in a hurry, but it means you can't find it on your Default Programs list where you want to have it, so it can be configured correctly. Simply putting your dragged-and-dropped program into the Program Files folder doesn't do it - it has to be downloaded from somewhere and then freshly installed, to make it show up in your Control Panel's 'Programs and Features' and in your 'Default Programs' lists. 

So the old drag-and-drop trick works to get a program from one operating system to another on the same drive, so you can use it right away, but it has to be installed the normal way to make it show up properly in your system and be configured there to work with everything else. Just an 'FYI' Kiddies. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Testing Win-8.1 64-bit Programs....

The latest 64-bit version of Image Composite Editor is Version 2.0.3 issued on 25 February 2015. And this is one of the very best inventions since sex! And a hell of a lot easier on your back! (Would I lie to you?)

Just a hint: Using your own icons for folders makes them a lot easier to pick out of a crowd... and if you'd like to make your own icons help is at hand.

Meanwhile, inside Stellarium, your own Planetarium, it's a nice morning, and there's a couple of meteorite showers to watch for, while we admire the sky.

And Mars this morning is 99% visible, but we're looking at the uninteresting side of it, so there's not much happening.....

But this is what Earth looks like this morning from Mars, and because it's so far away, let's zoom in on it, for a better look....

And call me crazy, but I think Mars once looked a lot like this itself, before that frozen meteoroid about the size of Pluto punctured its crust near the equator about 3.5 billion years ago, almost totally destroying it, and leaving what we see there now. And remember, folks, the truth is stranger than fiction. And what do I see there now? Mostly, its formerly 'plastic' or molten core, suddenly cooled after the loss of most of its surface features, atmosphere, and its magnetic field, following an almost unimaginable explosion within it. Gravity reassembled it, but not quite exactly, and that's why one hemisphere is at an elevation of several kilometers different from its other hemisphere. It had to have been almost torn in two, before those still-molten halves came smacking back together, slightly misaligned. That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it....

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Windows 8.1 Pro, x64 fresh install...

It isn't all fluffed out yet with the usual collection of desktop shortcuts, but it's definitely up and running and this blog entry is proof! I'm getting very good at re-installing Windows, whether I wanted to or not.... But really, it's often the quickest solution, rather than waste hours combing through seemingly endless community forums and so-called 'advice' pages, where I really do have to wonder if those guys have the knowledge they pretend to be dispensing so pretentiously. Some of the comments offered in there make me think we're dealing with  a few kids from primary school, rather than adults. And we very well might be, for all I know. And others have a poor command of English, or don't bother to double-check their text in a Translator program they may be using. And others really ought to use a Translator, so we could figure out just what they want fixed. 

Now Microsoft is accepting our suggestions, here's one: Build in a Translator in our next Windows. And since English is the language of business the world over, let's have it made so it automatically translates Swahili from Bunga-Bunga and other romantic-but-confounding-linguistics into good old English, so we can find some common ground upon which to exhibit our ignorance!

Here's the Desktop showing a usual set of desktop icons, and this time, I've added a new one, for 'Log Off', which puts you back to the Lock Screen, for those times when you don't want to shut it down completely.

You make the shortcut for it like you do for Restart or Shutdown, but with a different instruction on the ending, as follows:-

On an empty area of the Desktop, right-click it, and choose "New" and then "Shortcut". Then, as shown below, in the window that opens, type a location as shown, ( C:\Windows\system32\shutdown.exe /l ) - and that's one space after the end of "shutdown.exe" and then a forward slash followed by a lower-case L. (The screenshot isn't too clear on that part, because the cursor was captured along with the typing, so I'm being tedious here, so you'll get it just right.)

My Windows Rant earlier today....

This is definitely not a retraction - I just want you to know I fixed that busted x86 version of Win-8.1 by replacing it with this x64 version. Works for me!

Texas floods - God's vote against Republicans?

Here's what's wrong with Windows - 8.1 and others

Two days ago, I tried running DISM to restore the original image of Windows to the operating system, and after maybe 15 minutes of seemingly doing the process as it should, by scanning the system files consecutively in twenty-percent segments, graphically illustrated on-screen by a dotted line advancing across from zero to one hundred percent, and completes its whole scan, it then after all that, pops up a message that it was unable to find its source files!

For those unfamiliar with DISM, it is an integral Windows tool whose full name is Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool, and it has a list of optional choices of actions long enough to choke a horse, as they say. And theoretically it can use Windows Updates if you're connected to the Internet at the time, to get from Microsoft a fresh and clean and correct copy of your operating system's mostly-hidden files and folders, with the object of the exercise being to clean up any corruption or contamination in your system files, which might be interfering with the normally-expected performance of your computer.

That's a great theory - and I'm not trying to be sarcastic - but only when it works, and for me, this past two days, it hasn't worked at all! Yet, normally, it works just fine. Further research reveals that it needs permission from your Group Policy to actually go on line via Windows Updates to download a fresh system image from Microsoft.

That presents me with two more problems: (1.) How did it somehow fail to maintain its permission from Group Policy in the first place; and (2.) What do I do to restore that broken link in the chain? - and (3.) Why should I have to do all this in the first place?

Let's think about that number (3.) for a moment. I'm not a programmer, and I can't write my own code, except for a couple of short instructions in HTML which is now being phased out in favor of a more advanced version. I'm just a regular ordinary schmuck who got the program by buying a copy like anyone else. That in turn raises the question "Why am I now expected to be capable of repairing a Microsoft operating system I didn't have anything to do with building in the first place?" An operating system, may I add, that if properly assembled shouldn't require its users to suspend their normal activities on it for two days, while trying valiantly to read through multiple obfuscatory question-and-maybe-answer community 'help' forums, in which all too many of those helpers seem to be insufficiently-trained ESL students having real difficulty differentiating between their elbows and their asses!

My Point: When I buy a new car, I don't have to know how to build the thing before I can start using it, and when it breaks down, I don't have to waste days trying to diagnose its problems in order to fix it myself. It comes with a warranty, and the folks who sold it to me are more than happy to fix it for me, because they want me to come back there for my next new car later on.

Microsoft could easily rig that DISM tool so that it could begin by verifying your legitimate user key codes, and then link itself to Windows Updates when those are confirmed, and get busy downloading and repairing your deployed Windows system image - without all this goddamned bullshit !

There hasn't been a Windows since Windows 7 that has worked smoothly, effortlessly, and especially consistently without glitches or interruptions for patching or repairs. Microsoft is so busy trying to be everything to everybody they're in real danger of being nothing to nobody, because their standards of performance aren't sufficient to satisfy their users.

And that's my rant for today, Kiddies - and I really wish Satya would read this "love-letter" from one of his devoted but disgusted customers. If Windows was some brand-X open-source conglomeration of random bits and pieces, I might expect frequent fuck-ups, but not from a company like Microsoft. I won't accept that! It's just not good enough.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Today in USA Today

Old planes are like old motorcycles: it's always the hoses and seals and gaskets that go first.

More 'musings' from 'Oldest living blogger'

That 'Oldest Living Blogger' or 'OLB' as I was known, used to be my 'handle' on the original local community blogging website that first got me started blogging. A group of smart young guys here started their own software designing firm years ago, in the early 2,000s, and by the time I got onto computers in 2004, it was a thriving concern. They had been testing some open-source software called 'Drupal' [ ] and had created an central community blogging site that anyone could log into, and be assigned your own space on it, with which to rant, or you could also interact with others there through a very active commenting system, where the others in that community could all read and comment on whatever you added. We had lots of fun! And it was great practice for a 'newbie' like me to get his feet wet on the Internet.

My 'Oldest Living Blogger' handle caught the attention of an AP journalist, Carla Johnson, in Chicago, who was at the time researching an article about us old folk and our facility with modern technology, and she'd stumbled across my blog. So she asked to interview me, and I agreed. That got our local community blogging site written up and eventually mentioned in USA Today, and the young guys downtown operating that whole thing got quite excited. Me, not so much. I like to do the writing and let someone else do the reading.

As happens too frequently in the software game, those kids downtown got bought out by others, and those others didn't give a damn about their community blogging site, because it had already served its purpose of proving the system worked, so it withered on the vine rather quickly, and we moved on to other places like Google's 'Blogger' here. Which I wish they'd maintain with more regularity and enthusiasm. Alas, like other software giants, they're now so rich, famous, and diversified, they don't feel a need to nourish some of the roots that got them to where they are today. Too bad. Self-driving cars won't do for them what an active and thriving community of users of their software might.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"It's the American way, Folks..."

I've framed this picture borrowed from a Facebook entry today with patriotic colors, because I want everyone to see it. There are so many things wrong with the statements made in it, I hardly know where to start.  So let's start with a quote from Mark Twain:-

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctively native American criminal class except Congress."

Rand Paul says he is a physician. Physicians, from most recently available data, average about $230,000 yearly in the USA, whereas a US Senator gets $174,000 (unless he's accepting 'donations' from people like the Koch brothers) and that's a difference of $56,000 a year in favor of the physicians. So why did Rand Paul (I almost wrote 'Rant Paul') leave medicine for politics?

Nobody goes to the doctor's house to receive treatment, unless we're talking about one of those bone-in-the-nose black-assed African fiefdoms where the local witch-doctor dispenses spells and potions in exchange for vegies and other treats of an X-rated nature. In 65 years since I left my parents home, I've never known where my doctors actually lived while they gave me expert medical care. And I had no reason to care where they lived. It was their expertise I wanted and got.

In Canada, we don't have to mortgage the farm every time we have a serious medical emergency. We get fast expert help from our hospitals, clinics and doctors anyway, because our federal government says so. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I got an expensive prostate brachytherapy procedure involving injection of 150 radioactive little pellets into my prostate during a 45-minute procedure which within its predicted time period afterward completely killed that cancer. It didn't cost me a dime out of pocket.

My old email pen-pal in Swansea, South Carolina, discovered he had prostate cancer around the same time as me. Your American medical system, because your doctors own their own clinics and equipment which they want to keep paying for itself didn't offer him the same life-saving treatment I got here, even though it is available there. They recommended frequent trips to their clinic for external radiation interspersed with periods of chemotherapy instead, and gave him a song and dance about the kind of procedure I had received here. His cancer spread to his pelvic bones and lymph nodes, and he died last month, on April 17th. That's the difference between the American and Canadian health care system, and why my old friend 'Uncle Ron' is no longer with us.

So please don't allow yourselves to be misled by two-faced lyin' bastards who are only looking after "number one" and don't give a damn for you! Make sure you keep Obamacare, and try to improve it. The top one percent down there don't need any help to stay healthy - they've got most of the money already. And they're buying politicians to brainwash you into believing pure nonsense.

Don't fall for it! Try to remember what happened to 'Uncle Ron'. He was one of the pioneers of South Carolina Educational TV, and look where he is now. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Keeping your PC running well, maybe...

There's a lot of hype these days about "keeping your PC from slowing down" or "cleaning out your junk files to improve performance" - so who do you believe?

There's a trend lately for all the popular security/antivirus makers to hit you up for an additional contribution for tools that "keep your computer running just like it did that first day out of its box".  I'm a skeptic. I tend to say "Bullshit!" Nothing that's been used - your car, your wife, your socks, your underwear, and especially your computer is ever going to be "just as good as it was new". That's a fantasy, Kiddies, just like The Fairy Godmother, or The Wizard of Oz.

The Good News is, there are a couple I've tried (and still actually use!) that do seem to work OK without trashing my system's inner workings. And those would be the freebie versions of Glary Utilities and CCleaner. Both of these seem to be working OK in Windows 10, as well as previous versions of Windows.

You can do something similar by yourself, if you make desktop shortcuts to your User Temp, Windows Temp, and Prefetch folders, and then remember to use them periodically, but Glary Utilities and CCleaner do a more comprehensive job with less effort on your part. However, I still like to look at Prefetch and those Temp folders occasionally, just to make sure nothing's piling up in them. And I know Microsoft has said we don't need to dump Prefetch to force it to renew itself with its main essentials, but it does seem to work better if we do this periodically. And "if it works, don't fix it".

Here's a screen of Windows 7 showing those three icons for Windows Temp, User Temp, and Prefetch. You can do the same in Win-8, 8.1, and 10.

The latest from the Middle East.....

Here comes Friday 5:30 a.m.

This is the sort of picture I'd often get comments on, from 'Uncle Ron' Chapiesky, who lived in Swansea, South Carolina. He passed away April 17th, from complications of prostate cancer. It had spread to places where it couldn't be controlled. And it was the American 'free enterprise' medical system that killed him, not that cancer specifically. I've had prostate cancer too, and I'm still here, and now cancer-free as far as we can tell. But in the USA, unlike Canada, the doctors own their own clinics and equipment, all of which is expensive, and they administer treatment based on keeping their investments on equipment paying for themselves, and not specifically on what's the best course of action for the patient's well-being. So 'Uncle Ron' couldn't get the brachytherapy procedure with the one-time injection of radioactive pellets directly into the prostate, like I received, because his clinic was apparently trying to pay off some expensive external radiation equipment. And they fucked around with chemotherapy too long, until the cancer spread from his prostate into his pelvic bones and lymph nodes. And from there, it was just a matter of time.... and time ran out for him on April 17th, 2015.

'Uncle Ron' was very artistic, and worked for the South Carolina Educational Television organization for many years. He was one of its pioneers away back when. And he would have enjoyed seeing this picture of this morning's sunrise.

Wherever you are, Uncle Ron, I hope you're seeing an even better one, and may God hold you in the palm of His hand, and keep you safe from harm.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

This evening's sunset

They are all different, and all beautiful in their own ways.

Windows 10: ClassicShell Add-on

Curious about ClassicShell on Windows 10's latest build 10074? - Me too!

This is the sort of thing it does....It's a program that changes the GUI from the latest available Microsoft edition back to what we had in 2001 or 2009 and in that sense, it's a sort of "Time Machine". Using it, however, won't make you six or fourteen years younger, better looking, more sexually desirable, or richer. But it might accent the changes we've had in Windows during this past fourteen years.

It's a little "buggy" probably because Windows 10 is a 'self-healing' system, and it automatically tries to repair deviations in its systems as those are detected. That may explain why I haven't yet managed to get any results by clicking on that icon in it that says "Start Screen". But clicking other buttons in it probably will give me anything that might be on that anyway, but with fewer visuals.

Do I need this? Not especially. This PC already has the licensed versions  of Windows 7 SP1 Home Premium, Windows 8.1, and of course Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview, Build 10074. I think that's sufficient to satisfy my Windows requirements for the moment, don't you? So why did I do this then? Just for the hell of it, to show you what it looks like, because it is nice looking.  And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go back into Control Panel, to Programs and Features, and put Windows 10 back to normal.....

Please Note: If you install and then remove ClassicShell, it requires a reboot to finish the process, and that's not the end of it.... You will also need to go into your own User's-Name\AppData Folder, into both its Local and its Roaming subfolders, to remove a folder in each named ClassicShell. Those have settings and other stuff left behind by that program, and you need to remove these because the Windows Registry settings need to be updated to show these are now completely gone. So please don't neglect that.

If you've looked in your User's-Name folder, and haven't seen any folder there for AppData, that's because it's a "hidden" system folder, and to see it in there you need to go into Control Panel, to File Explorer Options/View Tab and choose to Show hidden files and folders. Now, you'll see it.

My friend in Lebanon comments on Windows 10...

Pascal is a doctor in Lebanon, too close for comfort to that Syria problem, and yet he manages to maintain a healthy sense of humor and is one of the sharpest minds in the Middle East. I thoroughly enjoy our exchanges, and my reply to him on Facebook just now is in French because that's his language of choice. On a good day, give Pascal and I half an hour or so to rap, and we can solve most of the critical problems in this half of the galaxy! I betcha!

Using Windows 10 Feedback: How it works...

Fine, thank you very much! I love this feature passionately, and I really wish Mighty Microsoft would keep it in the public versions of the Operating System.

I realize that might be a problem, given all the 'smart-asses' out here who love to play 'silly buggers' with the rest of us serious users, but maybe you could find an algorithm to strain out the usual patterns of those kinds of comments, so that the rest of us could continue to share our input with you.

Satya wants us to love our Windows. But first, we have to understand and trust one another, and that means 'communication' and communication implies a two-way exchange between us. Windows is one of the greatest communicating systems ever developed in this half of the galaxy, so may we please use it?

Today's 'Question Everything'.....

And the question is: "How many of you know who she is?"

Hint: "She made movies with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly...."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Make a Windows 10 Theme of Dubai....

As described in an earlier blog post, these go into a folder DesktopBackground within another folder you name Dubai, and then that goes into your Themes folder, which you will find at:-
C:\Users\Your name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes.
Drag and Drop 'Dubai' into that Themes folder, then open it, open the one for DesktopBackground, select all images, right-click on any one and choose to 'Set as desktop background'. That puts it on screen as a slideshow-type background.
Now right-click an empty spot on Desktop, choose the bottom item Personalize on that dropdown list, and when a new window opens, pick Themes in the right-hand column, and then choose Go to Theme settings, the top item on the right.
That shows you a window of thumbnails each representing one of your themes. Your new one will have appeared in the uppermost left-hand corner. Right-click it to open a box where you can choose to Save and give it a name (Dubai).
You can close that window, and go to Search (Cortana) and ask it to Change Desktop Background. That results in being shown a new window with all the individual thumbnails of your newest theme, and below that, an active box where you choose the timing for each image to display before changing to the next in the series. Make your selection, and remember to Save Changes! Then enjoy your new theme. That's all there is to it. 

Here's how it looks on the Desktop.........