Friday, July 31, 2015

Windows 10: Another old favorite that works in Win-10

For those of you not familiar with this, it's a very nice photo and image management system for cataloging all the images on your computer (depending on how you configure it) and then providing you with editing tools and a built-in slideshow projector. It does nice things like fine-tuning the lighting in photos, and it can even level the horizon lines in photos that were taken with a tilted camera, as long as that isn't too severe. It's a very nice complement to your regular image editing program because it can do things others do not.  

Here's a photo with the lake on a tilt, because the camera wasn't level. A very common mistake we've all made....

And here it is after Picasa 3 leveled it. This is a very useful feature we all need.
You'll find Picasa by scrolling down through the many Google accessories on their main Search page. Click/tap the nine little squares icon between "Images" and "Sign In" on their main page, and then at the bottom of the little window which opens, click/tap "More" and then again "Even More" on the next window, until you see the last page, where you'll find it.....


Today's Top Ten....

Windows 10: I repeat: "Don't believe all the 'experts'..."

Windows 10 is attracting more than its share of "Nervous Nellies" and self-appointed 'Experts' and its customary flock of axe-grinding psychological warfare "Spin-Doctors" all seemingly with a common purpose of sabotaging the launch of the latest Windows. As if these people had nothing better to do, and all day to do it.

I don't believe, for example, that Microsoft is purposely trying to become some kind of "Big Brother" as defined in George Orwell's book, "Nineteen Eighty Four". Those five million of us who have been testing it for months would know by now if that were the case. So let me explain where that idea came from. It came from the fact that for testing and evaluation purposes, we agreed to allow Microsoft and its trusted partners to use "Cookies" and "LSOs" on our hardware to discover how this wide variety of different devices and their installed third-party programs would interact with the new Windows. It's a matter of faith and trust between us, and I don't believe there's anything nefarious going on. Microsoft isn't trying to compete with the CIA or the FBI. They're just trying to develop a better operating system for you, because of all your bitching and whining about the ones you've got.

And even if I'm wrong, and they are "spying on the world with Windows 10" there are several security programs that can easily find and remove those "Cookies" and "LSOs" (Supercookies) in our systems, and most of us are already familiar with all that, and I'm sure the folks at Microsoft know this. So you've nothing to fear but fear itself. Lighten up and live a little! You're getting a hell of a nice operating system for free, and it deserves a fair trial before you decide to "shoot it at sunrise". You can always go back to the old one you've been complaining about, if you don't like it.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

And now, a little "outer space"...

Earth as seen from Mars using Stellarium, the planetarium for your computer.

As above, but zoomed in for more detail.

And here come the critics and semi-know-it-alls....

This always happens, with every new Windows release; the vultures circle and the know-it-alls babble on.....

People who aren't as familiar with their subject as they ought to be but still feel called upon to comment really shouldn't..... and I have examples:-

Don't tell me it has "a ton of bugs". Be specific! Make a list, or shut the hell up!

Again, be specific! What bugs? Don't be part of the problem, be part of the cure. And nothing has been more of a problem for me than Vista was on its release.

This is where he fails the "homework test" right here. As you see below, I'm using the free version of Bitdefender Antivirus in Build 10240. And if you haven't tried it, you really should. It works quietly in the background and kicks ass!

And there's more - this guy just loves exhibiting his ignorance of Windows 10...

Again, here's another screenshot for you. Do you see anything wrong with the System Restore? I don't....

I could go on, but you get the idea, I'm sure. And while we're on the subject of "disc images" please see my previous article on here about "DISM.exe" which is short for Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool. It can restore a defective disc image in less time than it takes to reinstall from a hard copy.

And don't believe everything you read from those "experts". An "expert" is anyone more than ten miles from home. And do try Windows 10. I think you'll like it in spite of those so-called experts.

Windows 10: The "Big Day" came and went....

The public release of Windows 10 wasn't quite as exciting for me as it may have been for some of the rest of you, because I've been using Windows 10 for about eight months now, as one of its testers.

If you would like a few hints on using it, or adding a few useful "freebies" into it, please look back through some of these previous posts on here. One of the nice features of Windows 10 is that it is able to run quite a few of our favorite older programs without making us "jump through hoops" to get them running in it. I'm running one favorite old photo-editing program that dates back to 2003, just to give you one example of that. 

And this is what it looks like while being used in Windows 10. It works fine.

If you're doing a blog like this, however, you will want a browser like Chrome or Firefox or Opera, because Microsoft's new "Edge" browser just can't do this yet. It doesn't display Blogger's text-editing page fully, and required editing tools are not being shown, so I can't use it to do this blog. I'm sure they'll correct that, but it hasn't happened yet.

Otherwise, though, I like Windows 10 much better than Windows 8 or 8.1 and I think you will too. Many of us have made suggestions, and Microsoft has listened to us, and made changes that we hope you will like. It restores some features we've been missing recently, and adds others that make it more friendly to use.

And the "Windows Insider" program continues, if you'd like to help test the coming versions of Windows. Even if you aren't into that, you'll still be able to send them feedback on things you like or would like to see changed in future versions. That too is an improvement over past editions of Windows. Older users of Windows will recall those bad old days when Microsoft seemed convinced that the only good part of a Windows user was his wallet or credit card. It took years to convince them it might be a good idea to find out what we liked or didn't like about their product, and let us make suggestions for new features or changes. And I'm pleased to report that I've lived to see that day, and I think that's just wonderful. I hope you like Windows 10. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Windows 10 goes public....

And I've had it since last November.... and I've also had this latest version for a couple of weeks, and didn't realize it's the same one the public gets today...

 Thank you to our Windows Insiders for helping us build Windows 10. If you’re a Windows Insider and running build 10240 – you already have the Windows 10 we are making available today. All you need to do is check Windows Update and make sure you have all the final updates. If you didn’t upgrade to the latest build as a Windows Insider, you can upgrade here. The Windows Insider Program will continue, and we will have more details to share soon about the next wave of the program.

At last, all our heckling of Mighty Microsoft is paying off handsomely, and we really are all on the same page with all this, and I think that's wonderful. I'm especially pleased that we're keeping the Feedback App in the program, because I've long believed that we could all benefit from sharing our thoughts and ideas for improving Windows, and I'm just delighted that Microsoft agrees with me.

Thank You, Microsoft.....

Windows 10: Just a reminder...

Although KeyScrambler is a 32-bit program, and Windows 10 is 64-bit, I just want to remind everyone that 32-bit programs do work very well in a 64-bit system, and this is one you really should have, because it protects from key-loggers.

The Personal version is a freebie, so don't go surfing without it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Around the solar system tonight.....

Cecil, the Lion: RIP

This 'Great White Hunter' regrets only one thing: getting caught. Maybe he'd like to be shot with a bow and arrow and then stuffed and mounted.

Hunting evolved as a means to provide food for the tribe. It was never intended as a sport. If you don't intend to eat it, don't hunt it, and the same applies to people. What are we, completely amoral assholes? The evidence in this case supports that conclusion.

Half-past Tuesday...

Here it is, half-past Tuesday already and I haven't done anything on the blog. I've been having too much fun on Facebook, exchanging one-liners with a very interesting pen pal in Lebanon, where it's now 10:26 p.m. (Here, it's 26 minutes past noon.) But stay tuned, please.

Monday, July 27, 2015

NASA finds Pluto, and other stuff...

I love asking questions. "If Pluto is so far from the sun, why is this image so bright?" (Because you "fooled around" with it, huh?)

NASA estimates 1 billion "Earths" in our galaxy alone. So that means with a total population right now of 7,331,422,049 we could send 7.3 of us to each one, if they weren't so impossibly far away, and possibly already populated by other beings who may not be as anxious to meet 'ET' as we seem to be.

NASA finds Earth's cousin. But what they really mean is that it was there 1,400 years ago, when its light began the journey to earth. It might be gone now, or a barren wasteland because its scientists were more advanced than ours. We don't know. And it would take 2,800 years to send them a message and get an answer back, assuming we could. Better not include this one in "Properties For Sale". 

My last question (for now): Is it budget time at NASA? Space is just marvelous but the sad truth is everything else "out there" is either totally uninhabitable or just too far away. And I've got a sneaking suspicion God planned it that way. The only "strange foreign planet" we will ever live on is the one we're standing or sitting on right now! So get used to it, Kids. You can't trash this one and expect to jump onto another to do it again. It just doesn't work that way. Read the rules and check the mileage charts  - you'll see.

Sundown last evening

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mitsubishi ending U.S. production...

This is not good news. Back in the nineties, Chrysler dealers sold the Eagle Vista in Canada, and I had their 1992 model. I loved it passionately, and I'm serious about that. For an old bachelor like me, who liked exploring the back country, it was ideal. I could flatten down the seats and sleep in the back. There was just enough room for a nice cozy down-filled sleeping bag, and a little smokeless heater for those frosty nights. I almost met a large Grizzly that way one moonlit night in October. I was camped in an old clearcut back in the hills, and because I needed room in the back of the little minivan, I'd placed my box of groceries out on the roof. Because I had the smokeless heater going, I had the windows cracked open an inch or two for ventilation. That's what probably saved me from a personal encounter with a very large bear.

About 4:00 a.m., something woke me up, but by the time I got fully awake and rigged the spotlight that plugged into the cigarette lighter, whatever it was had gone. I shone the light around to the nearest tall bushes about fifty yards past the little creek I was parked beside, but didn't see any movement, so after admiring the first traces of dawn in the east, I went back to bed.

Next morning, washing up in the creek, I noticed near a big log that formed a natural bridge over the creek something in the mud that looked like a partial footprint. So I crossed the "bridge" and followed a smaller little creek for a short distance. It was almost dried up, but still had soft mud on each side of the streambed, and a few yards from that log forming the bridge, I found fresh bear tracks larger than my own size ten-and-a-half bare footprints. I fitted my own bare foot into one, just to make sure. Then, I measured how deeply that bear had been sinking into the drying mud, and compared that to my own bare foot in that same spot in the mud. The bear was sinking in over twice as far as I was, and it had twice as many feet to distribute its weight, and those were bigger than mine. I'm really glad we didn't have to argue over my groceries. If that bear had climbed on the roof of my little minivan, it would have probably collapsed on top of me.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Speaking of Desktop Shortcuts.......

....and inside the Shortcuts folder, it looks like this.........

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Four desktop shortcuts you may wish to make, and why

You may find you need these periodically, and with the exception of the Registry one, which you need to be careful with, the others all regenerate or refill themselves after a reboot, so you're not losing anything important, you're just "dumping the garbage" to keep it to a minimum.

To use the Registry one for resetting your Screenshots counter, the path in the Registry for that is:-

H-Key Current User\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Explorer.
Modify the presently-shown value to "01" and then close the Registry. And don't forget to empty your Screenshots folder now that you've reset the counter.

Re: The preceding post and Desktop Gadgets...

I've updated it, to add screenshots of the gadgets in use with Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, just to reassure you that they will work in all of these systems.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Windows 10: Not all critics are correct about it....

And Preston Gralla, who wrote this above article, is one of those. He needs to do more homework before commenting on something he's obviously not sufficiently familiar with. Here's his full article....

In item number four of his article, he says Desktop Gadgets don't work in Windows 10. Above is a screenshot of this Windows 10 desktop, showing its latest build number in the lower right corner, and above that, guess what? Yep! Desktop Gadgets!

They aren't, however, the same as we have in Windows 7. They're even better! In fact, in my Windows 7, also on this main drive, I've replaced the originals with the same program which provides these, because there's more of these, and Microsoft has approved their use in Windows 10, and they work seamlessly with Windows 10, just as if they had been made for it, which they were, but not by Microsoft. Here's where these gadgets can be found, and they're free. Just download and install them.

You can't believe everything you read about Windows 10. And when someone decides to criticize it, that someone ought to be a guy like me, who has been testing it and using it daily since November 15th, 2014. Not by some guy trying to make a buck by throwing shit at something he isn't intimately familiar with!

Added on July 23/15.......

Here's screenshots from Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 of my other computer to show that these same Desktop Gadgets work just as well in those operating systems as in Windows 10.....

And I hope this settles the questions about Desktop Gadgets. If you do have any questions, please leave a comment below.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Computerized vehicles now a hacker's target...

It being time I got my nose out of Windows 10 and back into things like USA Today, here's a real grabber for you.....

If hackers can do this now, how long will it be before Big Brother can rig those surveillance cameras all over town to shut you down or pull you over for violations in traffic, and really cause gridlock? George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950) "Nineteen Eighty Four", etc., would definitely like to see this.

Windows 7: Still my favorite Windows ever

This Windows 7 is still my pick of the recent crop, and it's still more user-friendly than anything since. This makes me wonder why anyone would feel it necessary to "re-invent the wheel". I know why they're doing that, but I still think it's a mistake, really. I've always loved Windows 7, partly because it was the first Windows I helped to test, along with ten million others, and mistakenly or not, it still feels like I had a small part in its creation.

Everything that's come along since has been derived from or built upon the foundations used in creating Windows 7, and that's an indication right there of how really good it is. If I were making the decisions at Microsoft, and I wanted an operating system to convert into an ongoing, constantly evolving system that would "never be finished" this is the one I would have chosen, because it has features still unrivaled by successors.

And as you see in the above graphic, I'm not the only one who loves it. When Satya Nadella said recently that he wants us to love our Windows, many of us already do. It's just that we're loving a different version than he has in mind. And it's not easy to make a "first impression" the second or third time around.

Senet: A game from Ancient Egypt and still fun...

If you have kids, or grandchildren, they may enjoy this popular game from back in the days of Ancient Egypt. It's made to work with Adobe's Shockwave Player, and you should get the latest version of that before you try it. What modern game does it remind you of? Its webpage has the rules, and if you make a wrong move, you will be prompted to explain why it didn't work, and you can try again. For kids from ages 5 to 85.....Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Windows 10: Here's how DISM.exe works....

If you've read my previous post here, then you know what DISM.exe is. So now I want to show you how it does its thing, as it confirms or restores your official system image of your installed Windows. This also works the same way in versions of Windows 8/8.1 and while I'm babbling here, please note that you can adjust the opacity of the Windows Powershell window, so that you can see whatever is behind it, while it's working. I love little goodies like this! And now, here's some screenshots for you, showing DISM in action.

When Microsoft says "This is the best Windows ever!" this is one of the many reasons why, and you're going to love how this works.

And this brings me to something that I wish Microsoft would do more publicity on - and that's all these great but hidden features built into this system, that many of us are probably unaware of, but ought to be. We owe it to ourselves to learn what's "behind the curtain" and how it can help us in times of need. And the folks at Microsoft can help, by remembering that we aren't aware of a lot of these things that they take for granted, and we'd really appreciate more instruction on these. So I'm suggesting a "User's Manual" please....

A little more Windows 10 whining....

While doing my critique on here the other day, I probably neglected to say that there's one problem with Win-10 that maybe Mighty Microsoft ought to re-think.

The distribution format that they've chosen is set up so that it does its automatic downloading and installing at a time in the wee hours of the morning. And from start to finish, for this latest build 10240, on my PC, that took just over three hours. 

Three hours is a long time, and my computer is turned off at nights before I go to bed, because I don't want anything going on with it unless I'm awake and there to see what's happening, and perhaps stop it if I don't like it. I used to also shut off the modem at nights, until Bob at the ISP told me that it causes a lot of unnecessary re-synchronizing if I do that, and I should leave it on 24/7. But I don't want my hard-drive spinning away for nothing, or the fans wearing themselves out, if nobody's at it doing something, so I turn everything off when I'm done for the day. It seems more secure to me that way.

But for anyone like me, who turns it all off at nights, it means we have to do this "automatic updating" with its install process and its reboots and all that during the daytime, when most people would rather be actually using their PC for something more productive or more interesting. But we have to wait for three hours, to get the latest incarnation of Windows 10 downloaded, configured for installation, and then actually installed. And this can seem like forever.

I liked it better when we could download an ISO file, burn it to disc, and then install it whenever convenient. Having a disc is also desirable for those who aren't familiar with DISM.exe, and how to use it.

And if you open Windows Powershell in Administrator Mode (It's a more "with it" version of "Command Prompt") and you type in DISM.exe /? at the blinking cursor, you get a lot more than you see above, so please scroll down for the rest of it.

"What can it do?" you ask. It can contact Microsoft's "Mission Control" and compare your installed Windows Image with their official correct version, and then repair yours if the two are not exactly alike. In some cases, that's faster than trying to do a re-install from a disc, and in addition, it doesn't disturb your installed third-party programs and files. So this is the preferred method, and you should familiarize yourself with at least its fundamentals, because chances are, this is soon going to become our best option for verifying the system's OK.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Microsoft's new 'Edge' browser....

I'm heartened by the fact that at least one noted industry critic agrees with my assessment of it being in need of more work.

And as he says, you can bet the folks at Microsoft are "burning the midnight oil" trying to get it together. Personally, I'm really surprised that Microsoft would do so much publicity about it, given its "rough edges" as that expert describes it.

I'm somewhat surprised they'd include it in the Windows 10 package, given that it can't be used to do this blog, because it doesn't display this text editor with its controls well enough to be useful. I'm not using Edge here because I didn't like it, but rather because it wouldn't work, which is a whole other kettle of fish. And Microsoft should have discovered all that before turning it loose on us.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Windows 10: Build 10240: A few comments...

First of all, here's my desktop. Please note that you don't see any arrows on my desktop shortcuts. Here's what gets rid of those for you...

And please also note that I have the "The Insider Hub" icon showing in the Taskbar. If yours doesn't, and you want it to, here's what to do:-
Go to "Settings" > "System" > "Apps and Features" and click/tap on "Manage Optional Features" and then click/tap on "Add a Feature" and this brings up a long list that you will need to scroll down through until you come to the item "Insider Hub". Click/tap on it to display a button "Install", and click/tap that. This should re-install it for you if it's missing. Now, if you get a pop-up with a long story about talking to your Administrator, or bringing a note from your mother, that means you need to clear the cache for the Windows Store App, and you do that by using "WSReset.exe". Type that into your search box in the "All Apps" page, and press Enter. This should clear that cache, and let you do your thing with re-installing Insider Hub. Clearing that Windows Store Cache also corrects the difficulty of not being able to download this latest Windows 10, Build 10240, in case you got referred to the error code 0x8024a105.

Please Note: If you have trouble getting the "WSReset.exe" to work, then open Windows Powershell in Admin Mode, and at the cursor type WSReset.exe /? and press enter. There's one space between the "exe" and the forward slash.

And of course, for your newest Windows 10, you want a really good anti-virus, because "Defender" gets a bad rating with the experts, but it's free, and you don't want to spend a lot of money right now.... So get the best "freebie" anti-virus for 2015 instead. This one...........

Bitdefender is a totally "hands off" operation. It requires no interference from its user to make it work normally. You can review its log files and clear those if you wish, but you don't need to worry about it updating itself or grabbing the bad guys, because it does all that better than others, including some that would cost you part of the grocery money.

And last but not least, you'll notice that there's no icon in my Taskbar for that new "Edge" browser Microsoft has been hyping lately. And you're probably wondering why. That's because I removed its icon from the Taskbar because it still doesn't show a complete and functioning text-editor in Google's "Blogger" where this blog resides, and I'm really disappointed about that, because it does have other features, like "Web Notes" that I'd really like to be able to demonstrate here, in an actual "working" situation. But I can't.  

And I hope that Microsoft and Google can resolve their differences fairly soon, and stop playing games with one another at the user's expense. It's us unwashed masses who are keeping both Microsoft and Google fat and happy, and we don't enjoy having the bat shoved you-know-where because you kids can't get along. So shame on you both! You should know better by now.