Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Facebook posting today...

Stephen Hawking, world's most famous living scientist, asked by The Guardian to explain Trump's popularity, said "I can't. He’s a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”

Trump's popularity, with apologies to Mr. Hawking, is no
mystery. He's preying on our fears of the great unknown, our discontent over the export of jobs to cheaper labor markets, our disgust at the racism and inaction of Congress as it revolts against the first black President and one of the most popular men on earth, and our feeling of impotency as we watch our government being purchased by Daddy Bigbucks and his pals among the corporate elite at firms like Lockheed Martin, or along Wall Street.

Trump may be a spoiled-brat, rich-kid, know-nothing, but he can hire brains and take their advice, and he's good with words, like any successful con-artist would be. He may be morally bankrupt, and sometimes financially bankrupt too, but he's good at bouncing back. His weaknesses include political inexperience, and lack of sufficient knowledge of the international situation to be able to hold up his end against the heavy hitters out there who already know how. And let's not forget his hot temper which could prove completely disastrous for all of us with his finger on The Big Red Button. Sensible people are scared shitless by that scenario, understandably.

Stephen Hawking knows all this, of course. He's just too polite to meddle in others' politics. I'm not, because I don't want to live next door to a nation that has a Trump in the White House with his finger on The Big Red Button, because I don't trust that son of a bitch as far as I could throw him, and neither should you. He didn't get to be a billionaire by being kind to the homeless, the hungry, the poor, the disabled, or the veterans who kept his flabby ass alive and well while he ducked serving his country himself. So don't kid yourselves, Kiddies. He is not your Savior. He is using you for his own benefit.

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Special Sunset....

"Why?" you ask. "Because..." I reply, "there's no clouds and no jet trails in it, and we're on the main Pacific flyway between the lower 48 states and Alaska and the Orient. So there's usually hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of jet exhaust polluting the airspace west of town and out over Vancouver Island."
So this really is "special".

On a different note, a rather sour one, here's one of those "freebie" programs that are out there for the taking, but which you should maybe think twice about. It comes with very high praise for doing an excellent job of its primary task. There's only one catch. It also comes with a "LiveUpdate" feature that I'm told  is extremely difficult to get rid of, and which will keep trying to re-establish its contacts with its home base even if you shut off Windows Updates.  And that's the sort of news which tells me that this "LiveUpdate" feature is probably what we used to call a "Supercookie" or "LSO" (local system object) which never expires, is bigger than a standard cookie, and often (as in this case) contains an executable file (.exe) which can and does "phone home" with your information to its providers, who use that for God only knows what purposes, unbeknown to you. So I'm babbling about it here to give you a "heads up" on this stuff. Not all of these wonderful "freebies" come to you without strings, and you won't see them until they've already done their jobs, and likely not even then, unless you know what to look for. And by then, it could be too late.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Lunar Calendar, "Dedicated to the Goddess in her many guises"...

The coloring of the little daily moons is my own idea. It doesn't come this way, but it perhaps could...


Early morning, West Vancouver's British Properties....

You can't see it for the fog this morning, but their Hollyburn Country Club has a family membership fee of $45,000.00 CDN. And that's not a typo! They offer installment payments, but they frown while discussing them, as though your ancestors perhaps were pirates or some other disreputable characters. Even if I had millions, I wouldn't join a glorified tennis club for that kind of money, no matter if the Queen of England served the drinks! Especially if the Queen of England served the drinks! Bah! Humbug!


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I got these early in the morning, while it was still clearing off slowly here, and both are shot through thin clouds and mist, giving them an other-worldly quality.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Backgrounds: Traditional, or Not ?

This is the kind of background you can get if you play around with Evolvotron for a few minutes. And it's fun, too.

And a more traditional backgrounder...

Learning to use Gimp....

Here's two screen backgrounds, the one in the center with its dimensions reduced by 50%, and then pasted into the other one, to create a new effect. The larger one is something I made while testing a program called Evolvotron, which generates its own images from a set of parameters you can alter for differing effects. I have to practice with that one more too. So if you don't see a posting on here for a day or so, I may be playing with the goodies and not writing on here, like this last couple of days.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Where do my Digital TV signals come from ?

These towers on the hillside a few miles away. This is why I don't need cable.

Today's Viewers are from.........

This morning's look outside....

My re-worked entertainment system.....

Now that I've "cut the cord" from cable, and become totally reliant on my own air-signal antenna and its tangle of cables behind my old stereo rack, I've been experimenting with what I can do with it.
Since it's now all-digital, rather than the former analog-only signals we were getting from the building's cable network, I wondered if my old VCR could still play tapes through it to a digital TV, and the answer is "yes!". A recently purchased digital TV does detect the older analog signals from older equipment, and displays very sharp images of your dusty old "adults only" tapes from back around the turn of the century, when we were all afraid the world might be ending, and we wanted a last look at all that enhanced "T&A" then available on certain late-night channels.
I donated most of my tapes collection, a rather large box full, to a needy girl-watcher pal of mine who works on the maintenance crew for this complex. He said, "Ray, I'd have never believed you were such a connoisseur of feminine pulchritude!" I told him I spent one whole summer here dating one of the hottest looking strippers in town, and we went to places where the maitre de wouldn't dream of throwing us out for fear of disturbing the other guests. It was great fun! He said, "I married one of those once, and it was fantastic for the first six months, until we came to our senses."
Anyway, I discovered tonight that I could now hire out as a eunuch to someone with a harem. I started out to watch one of those old tapes that I hadn't given away, and those great plasticized bods looked absolutely wonderful, until I fell soundly asleep twenty minutes into a six-hour tape, and awoke just in time for the final happy ending of the last movie on it, and then watched it rewind. It's the best sleep I've had in days. Maybe I should do that more often. I slept like a baby for over five hours!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Today's 'Question Everything' = "Who wants to live on Mars?"

"Who wants to live on Mars, when we have places like this right at home?"

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Completing my audio-visual setup, now it's on a digital antenna...

I had to do some tweaking, because I want it all..... I want the newer digital TV signals, but I also want to be able to use my old VCR to play old tapes, and my DVD player, to play DVDs. Because there's no use being wired, if you don't have all the toys included in the network. 

So I've added some quick-connect fittings to that set-top box, so that I can bypass that when playing old tapes into this monitor. This completes the setup. I've spliced in the VCR onto the cable of the antenna system, so that whenever I bypass the set-top box, I can get an old-fashioned analog signal from the VCR into the TV/PC monitor, and watch old VCR tapes on this 30-inch flat-screen. When I want to watch DVDs, those are connected to another TV-only set directly.

So now, I have TV and DVDs available on the main TV, and TV or PC available on one computer, and TV, VCR, and PC available on the other computer. And I can patch the computer sound into a second old stereo, if I want better sound. So the whole setup is now finished. I've got everything available and working again, and I'm doing it without any cable TV service. It's all my own system, and it works just fine. Live better electrically - do it yourself. Works for me.

The morning weather....

Reports are that it will not be good for the long weekend, folks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Digital TV on a digital set.....

Kids still know how to be kids.....

All digital....

I got a set-top box for my last remaining analog TV monitor yesterday, so now, all three are able to display digital TV signals. That means the TV set plus the two 30-inch TV monitors on the two PCs. What's it look like, watching digital as it is converted to analog for an older set? It looks like this.....

We need to remember this isn't a digitized image. It's an analog image created from digital signals, so it isn't as sharp and clearly defined as the original digital signals coming from the antenna. And yes, it is an antenna, not cable. It's a home-made creation I whomped up twenty years ago for the stereo receiver, and as I've recently discovered, it also pulls in a half dozen digital TV stations, so today's Question Everything is: "Who needs cable?" I get a better picture for free, right out of the air, than I was receiving from Shaw Cable, so why would I want to go back to that, and pay them for something I can have for the taking? My own technology is apparently superior to theirs. I like that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

From yesterday's news: Warren Buffett and Apple...

Personally, none of my own tech is Apple, but that's just my preference. I think Apple products are overpriced, compared to PCs made by others like Acer or Lenovo or Dell or HP. I've always lusted after an HP All-in-one multi-touch, but not even that, excellent as it is, would do everything that I'm doing on this old Acer with its peripherals like the Wacom Pen Tablet with which I love to doodle. And none of those come with the kind of 30-inch flat-screen TV monitor I'm using. Why go somewhere else for your TV when you can simply have it on the same monitor you use for the computer? Works for me! You should try it.

More "Oldest Living Blogger".... Milk Bottles...

I've probably mentioned this before, but our last-remaining locally-owned dairy is 110 years old this year, and now located in modern facilities in Burnaby. They used to be "right downtown" on their original farm, at 44th Avenue and Wales Road, Vancouver. And their milk is still in those famous glass bottles. They say they have to buy extra ones, because customers tend to want to collect them. There's a one-dollar deposit on them, so for a buck, you can have a keepsake. I like to take them back, and get my buck, and then look around the store for some little kid eyeing the candy shelf, and say "Hold out your hand." For those who do, they get a buck to spend foolishly. That's no big deal these days, but it once was.

More "Oldest Living Blogger" - This and That.....

For the first time in days, my American readers outnumber my Russian readers, and I am sometimes puzzled by that. I'm being read elsewhere because of the Google Translate Gadget in the right-hand column here. That's been a good idea, and while Google still has work to do on its translations, it is certainly better than nothing. I often exchange conversations with a pen-pal in Lebanon who prefers either French or Arabic, and I don't know either, but Google Translate makes it possible. I sometimes have to re-translate my stuff a couple of times before sending it, however, to make sure it says what I want it to say, not nonsense.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Wallpaper - From the Movies....

Sometimes, the opening credits in a movie have some nice backgrounds that make good wallpaper when cropped and resized for your monitor. And quite often, these have nothing to do with the movie itself. They are just "pretty pictures".

Friday, May 13, 2016

Should I throw out Windows 10 ?

This shows the scan logs for the five days this week, Monday to Friday, and the total is 660 threats detected. That's an average of 132 per day for this week. Microsoft or Google obtaining a few statistics on my operating system uses or surfing habits is one thing, but 132 a day is more than a little excessive I'd say. Nobody needs that much tracking of a user's habits, for any reason whatever. It's simply ridiculous. And not only that, it's clogging up the system and using resources that should be available for other purposes. Purposes like faster starts and quicker reboots and less need to be bombarded with these phony reminders about "You have three or more new Apps that you could remove from your Startup in Task Manager to speed up response times...." 

It's not my "new Apps" that are the problem here! It's this Spyware constantly being injected into the system seemingly by the dozens.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Found: A good driver for my old Wacom Graphire 4 tablet

And now I can enjoy doodling with it again! Wacom discontinued support for this model of pen tablet, to make us buy a newer one, but there's still nothing wrong with the one I have, and I like it just fine the way it is, as long as I can get a driver that works with it. The newer drivers have added features that cause some weird results on this older tablet, and that's why they aren't wanted. But I finally found an old version of the driver, about the same age as the tablet is, and it works fine now. And this time, I copied it to a disk, so I'll have it after the next total replacement of the Windows on here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Photo Editor for Linux Mint = Fotoxx

One of the things I really miss in Linux - two things, actually - are (a) a good photo editing program, comparable to Irfanview, and (b) a really easy-to-use panorama maker that doesn't require the user to do all the work. So today I'm pleased to report I've found a well-equipped photo editing program, Fotoxx. After you install it, go into your terminal, and type this command:-
sudo apt-get install libimage-exiftool-perl. That is required to make Fotoxx better able to do its thing. And then choose a main folder for it to use for its automatic searches for images. After that, you're ready to work with it. Enjoy.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

File under "Question Everything"....

"Can I watch?" - "Please, Please.... Can I watch?" I desperately want to see someone or anyone Insert a disk into a USB Drive...... and as I'm watching, will someone please explain why anyone at Mighty Microsoft would write something as ridiculous as this after forty years in the business of bits & bytes?

Today's "Question Everything" is: "Does anyone know how to play this game?"

A little 'Postscript' to yesterday's....

Most of these are usually either Microsoft or Google sourced tracking cookies to discover what we're doing and who we are doing it with, and this is presumably the price we have to pay for these "freebies" we get from them. So today's Question Everything is: "Is it worth it?" And how "free" are their programs or services if we have to spend money on various security programs to help us stay safe from harm which might be contained inside this spyware or supercookies? 

You do know what a supercookie is, don't you? It's like a regular cookie on steroids - it never expires, and it can "phone home" with your information to its home base, because it contains an executable program which enables it to do that. And that's maybe the classic definition of "Spyware". The fact that it can report back to wherever it came from, and send home your information to people you didn't even know were after it from you. The information being collected might be relatively harmless to share, but the part that pisses us off is that we were not asked up front if we would mind sharing it. When someone comes along in effect saying "I'm going to help myself to whatever I want inside your files, and I don't need your approval and I'm not asking you first..." then, in the words of Bugs Bunny, "This Means War!" - And the battle is on.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Here's why you need good security in Windows...

Maybe you recall a previous rant I did on here about Windows and spyware. Again, the above first image is a good example of how quickly it collects in Windows. These are tracking cookies, which may not be life-threatening, but they're a damned nuisance, and they can quickly clog up your system and slow it down, because they're using up resources that should be going to other stuff.

The second image shows a couple of unwanted programs piggybacked in here when I downloaded the "ImgBurn" disc-burning program. I like ImgBurn because it's simple, comes with a built-in prompting system, and it really works. Unfortunately, they are now in cahoots with a couple of questionable characters who are planting bloatware in your system as you take the ImgBurn. And before you say "Why didn't you watch for those optional boxes on the windows during the install process, and uncheck them?" - I watched, and I didn't see anything about Open Candy or Price Fountain, whatever those are. What they are is a pain in the ass, big time. If people are sneaking stuff into your system instead of being up-front about it, then they can't be all good, and you don't want whatever they're after in here, and it's an invasion of privacy which is becoming all too common these days. I'd rather pay for ImgBurn than have this problem. It's a good program, and worth having, whether free or not. It's been my favorite for burning discs for years now. I wish they would get a divorce from all that shit that comes along for the ride.

And it's for reasons like the above that more of us are taking a hard look at the alternatives to Windows, like Ubuntu, or Linux Mint, or PC-BSD, all of which are magnificent 'freebies', work like a charm, and look good doing it. I've tried all of them, so I'm not just passing along second-hand opinions here. I'm still using Ubuntu and Linux Mint in a dual-boot configuration on my other computer, and Linux Mint along with Windows 10 in dual-boot format on this one. There are only a couple of Windows-only programs that I don't want to live without, otherwise I could happily survive on these modern Unix derivatives. And if I were Mighty Microsoft, I'd be concerned about that. Windows comes with a lot more "baggage" than these others, and that "baggage" is turning us off. 

Linux Mint Wallpaper

I had a naughty lady from a Russian website on here, but she was a little too much for this old guy, so I changed her for this one. If you do a search in Google Images for this, it is twice as long and higher, so you'll have to do some serious cropping of it.

And if you're looking for a bulk renaming program, "GPRename" is a good one and you won't load up the system with a whole list of needed other files, as you will if you choose "Krename" which requires a lot of KDE stuff. It's good, but more than I needed.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Desktop Gadgets....

I like desktop gadgets. I've never quite discovered the real reason why Microsoft decided to stop letting us use them, after Windows 7 made them so popular, and then gudgingly admitted that maybe they are OK again while we've been testing Windows 8, 8.1, and 10. As I've argued more than once, the same security programs that protect everything else in your computer will also be protecting the gadgets, and detecting any malware those may contain. So there must have been some other reason. Maybe Microsoft thought we were having too much fun with them, or they could make use of those resources to flog their own stuff. But whatever, they are back. They are back better than ever. And 8GadgetPack is where to get them. And you can find it here.

This is one of them. A "heads up display" of the time and date. You can choose the color of the text, and also the opacity. You can't change the size of text.

This is the matching weather gadget which goes with it. Unfortunately, the location codes needed to make it show your local weather were recently changed, and the gadget has not been updated to work with these new codes. I can't find any recent codes from BBC, Yahoo, or elsewhere which do work in it, and its own "Where In The World" ones no longer work.

I mention all this for two reasons:- (1.) I'd like it fixed; and (2.) I would also like someone to make a package of this "8gadgetpack" which would install and work in Linux Ubuntu and Mint 17.3. One of the missing things about Linux or Ubuntu is the lack of a good selection of useful gadgets for our desktops. These would be just as much fun and just as useful in Linux as in Windows. Will someone please try to find out if we can make this happen?