Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Just read this on The Onion:
Reminds me of some pundits talking back during the big “Y2K” crisis that we all should consider taking the few remaining COBOL programmers and cryogenically preserving them for the time of the “Y10K” crisis so that there would be someone on tap to fix COBOL applications when that problem comes up….
Monday, October 4, 2010
That’s the title of the email I just received. Here is a copy of the content:
We all need to do our own part by abiding in God and living according to His standards – not the corrupt standards of this world or the eroded standards of our once-great country! Then we need to register our important votes in the November elections for candidates that are like-minded and committed to the kind of change that will get our nation back on track.
Please join us in prayer for our country and seek God’s face and His wisdom and guidance in these difficult days.
Gotta love it!
Friday, August 27, 2010
OK, I’ve finally gone and done it. I’ve made the switch permanently (as much as anything is “permanent” ) from Internet Explorer 8 to the Google Chrome web browser.
The one thing holding me back was the lack of support (either built-in or provided by a third-party add-in) for sending the contents of a web page to Microsoft OneNote. I pretty much live in two applications: Outlook and OneNote. Anything I think I’m going to refer to in the future gets stuck in a OneNote page. OneNote indexes everything, enabling me to do a keyword search on the entire OneNote database for anything I’ve stored there. Technical information, personal projects – heck, even stuff for my ham radio, shortwave and stamp collecting hobbies! – can be easily searched for and retrieved on a moment’s notice.
One thing I do frequently is send information from a web page to OneNote, but I couldn’t do that in Google Chrome until a gentleman by the name of Eugene Rosenfeld came up with a two-step process that gets the job done. In an article here, Mr. Rosenfeld shows that by using the “IE Tab” add-on to read the current page using Internet Explorer’s rendering engine, right-clicking within the page can send the contents of that page to OneNote. It’s a hack, but it’s a very, very good hack!
Since Google Chrome operates – in my personal experience – about 10 times faster than Internet Explorer 8, this saves a lot of time!
See the following locations on the Web for more information about the products mentioned in this article:
Disclaimer: As I’ve emphasized in many a blog posting in the past, I am not an employee of either Microsoft or Google. (I wouldn’t mind working for either, but that’s another story. ) I have no financial or any other connection with either company, nor do I receive any compensation – financial or otherwise – from either for praising their products online.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
This past Sunday something came up in conversation that I hadn’t thought about for some time. A friend at church recently had to change her email address because she changed Internet providers at home. I’ve taken my GMail and other accounts for granted over the years, but this reminded me of why I have those other accounts, and not just the one from my Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Here’s the thing: if you only have the email account from your ISP, and you change ISPs, you have to do all sorts of extra work…
- Tell all your friends about your new address
- Change all of your online accounts that reference that address, like utility bills and such.
- Change any email subscriptions like Yahoo! Groups and such, so they go to the new address.
…and so on. And you have to do this every single time you change ISPs. In my friend’s case, it was because she switched from Time-Warner Cable to Verizon’s FiOS fiber-optic service. But it could be for whatever reason: moving to a new location that isn’t served by your previous ISP, for example.
Now, if you have an email account that’s independent of your ISP – Google GMail, for example – then you’re spared the inconvenience of having to go through all that hassle. No matter who your ISP is, your GMail account remains the same. Have all of your online subscriptions, emails from your friends, online utilities, all of that stuff sent to your GMail account, and if or when you need to change ISPs you don’t have to do a thing.
It sounds completely obvious, but I’m betting there are a lot of people out there who go through this whole process, completely unaware of the advantage of using an ISP-independent email address, hence this post. Heck, I may even put the URL for this blog item on my business card…!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Remember it takes a college degree to fly a plane, but only a high school diploma to fix one; a reassurance to those of us who fly routinely in our jobs. After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a 'gripe sheet,' which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.
Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers.
By the way, UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident.
P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.
P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.
P: Something loose in cockpit
S: Something tightened in cockpit
P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.
P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.
P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.
P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.
P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.
P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.
P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search
P: Aircraft handles funny. (I love this one!)
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be serious.
P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.
P : Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.
And the best one for last…
P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget.
A Doctor was addressing a large audience in Tampa. "The material we put into our stomachs is enough to have killed most of us sitting here, years ago. Red meat is awful. Soft drinks corrode your stomach lining. Chinese food is loaded with MSG. High fat diets can be disastrous, and none of us realizes the long-term harm caused by the germs in our drinking water. But there is one thing that is the most dangerous of all and we all have, or will, eat it. Can anyone here tell me what food it is that causes the most grief and suffering for years after eating it?" After several seconds of quiet, a 75-year-old man in the front row raised his hand, and softly said, "Wedding Cake."
An elderly gentleman of 83 arrived in Paris by plane. At the French customs desk, the man took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry-on bag. "You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked, sarcastically. The elderly gentleman admitted he had been to France previously. "Then you should know enough to have your passport ready." The American said, "The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it." "Impossible. Americans always have to show their passports on arrival in France!" The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained. "Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find any Frenchmen to show it to."
Bob, a 70-year-old, extremely wealthy widower, shows up at the Country Club with a breathtakingly beautiful and very sexy 25 year-old blonde who knocks everyone's socks off with her youthful sex appeal and charm. She hangs onto Bob's arm and listens intently to his every word. His buddies at the club are all aghast. At the very first chance, they corner him and ask, "Bob, how did you get the trophy girlfriend?" Bob replies, "Girlfriend? She's my wife!" They're amazed, but continue to ask. "So, how did you persuade her to marry you?" "I lied about my age", Bob replies "What, did you tell her you were only 50?" Bob smiles and says, "No, I told her I was 90."
A group of Americans were traveling by tour bus through Holland. As they stopped at a cheese farm, a young guide led them through the process of cheese making, explaining that goat's milk was used. She showed the group a lively hillside where many goats were grazing. "These" she explained "are the older goats put out to pasture when they no longer produce." ; She then asked, "What do you do in America with your old goats?" A spry old gentleman answered, "They send us on bus tours!"
While trying to escape through Pakistan , Osama Bin Laden found a bottle on the sand and picked it up.
Suddenly, a female genie rose from the bottle and with a smile said, "Master, may I grant you one wish?"
Osama responded, "You ignorant, unworthy daughter-of-a-dog! Don't you know who I am? I don't need any common woman giving me anything."
The shocked genie said, Please, I must grant you a wish or I will be returned to that bottle forever."
Osama thought a moment, then grumbled about the impertinence of the woman and said, "Very well, I want to awaken with three American women in my bed in the morning. So just do it and be off with you."
The annoyed genie said, "So be it!" and disappeared.
The next morning Bin Laden woke up in bed with Lorena Bobbitt, Tonya Harding, and Nancy Pelosi at his side. His penis was gone, his knees were broken, and he had no health insurance.
God is good.
*This is probably an old one, but still funny….
Saturday, July 24, 2010
If your desktop is like mine, you tend to stick pretty much everything there that you’re working on instead of in the My Documents folder like good little boys or girls. Unfortunately, that means clutter – big-time!
As a long-time Stardock customer, starting with WindowBlinds and moving on through many of their other non-game products, I’ve become quite fond of a little tool they have called “Fences.” In short, Fences allows me to set up little fenced-in enclosures on the desktop where I can stick pretty much anything to keep them corralled-up and organized. Simply right-click on the desktop, drag to select an area, then let go. A prompt appears to “Create new Fence here.” Give it a name, and there it is. From there, I can drag and drop files on the desktop into the fence, and they stay there. Drag it around on the desktop to put it wherever you like. Once fenced-in, my desktop looks like this:
(The items down the right side of the desktop, except the one labelled “Backups,” are Windows 7 desktop gadgets, not part of Fences.) I tend to keep my Fences of relatively uniform size, but you can size them to whatever dimensions you like.
One thing to keep in mind: these Fences are not folders. If you look in Explorer at the contents of your desktop, they’re still all individual files as far as Explorer is concerned, so once you start using Fences you might want to forget about looking at the desktop contents in Explorer.
I use Fences semi-frequently. Normally I don’t have any fences set up on my desktop, but if I notice that things are starting to get a little cluttered I set up some fences to impose some semblance of order on my usually chaotic life, then when the number of items on the desk get down to a more manageable size I get rid of the fences until they’re needed again.
The basic Fences program is free. The Pro version, which offers some additional features to make organizing easier, is only $9.99 (as of the time of this post, normally twice that) so even though I don’t use those features all that often, having them on tap was worth the very nominal cost of the program.
The Stardock.com web site for Fences has all the details about what features are available in each version, so I won’t go into all the details here. Check for yourself.
Also, there are a number of reviews – professional and otherwise – on the Web which you might find interesting. I will list them here, but note that I did not read any of them before putting this online. I didn’t want any bias from those reviews to filter into my thinking as I wrote this. A few of the reviews are:
The above were just some of the results of a Google search for “stardock fences review” (click the link to recreate the search).
In short: Fences is well worth looking into. The free version has nearly all of the features I use, so start with that and see if it helps you as well as it’s helped me over the past several months.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Tuesday this week, our church business meeting started out routinely enough, then degenerated into character assassination, charges of blackmail, and calls for the pastor to resign. Despite the best efforts of both the regular moderator and a “stunt double” moderator brought in from outside the church, there was no possible way to maintain order. After about two or three hours of excruciatingly painful debate, it finally became obvious to most that there was no way anything further was going to be accomplished that night, so the meeting was adjourned around 9pm.
I’m so brokenhearted over the whole thing – seeing friends attacking each other, falling on to each other like cannibalistic wolves, flinging all sorts of rumors and innuendo – that I wonder if I will ever return. I know I’ll be taking this Sunday “off” but it remains to be seen if I’ll be searching for a new church home soon…
PS: Those who know me from church know what church I’m talking about. Those who don’t, I’m not going to mess things up further by identifying either church or members involved.
Friday, June 25, 2010
I purchased a new laptop a couple of weeks ago to replace the trusty Dell XPS M1210 laptop. It served me well for four years, and was still more than adequate for my needs until it suddenly gave up the ghost.
After having spent some time with the Dell Inspiron 1545 – purchased at Best Buy for around $500 with tax – I’ve noted some great features and some shortcomings. Perhaps my experience will help others in their buying decisions.
First, I have no regrets about my purchase. It’s a great system and well worth the money. Let’s get that out of the way first off. This isn’t a trash-job “review” like I’ve read elsewhere over the years, posted by someone who really has a hidden axe to grind. Quite the contrary, I’m happy with the system and have been a long-time satisfied Dell customer. And to clarify that, let me say that if I were honked off at Dell for some reason I’d be just as willing to share that information as well as sharing the viewpoint of a satisfied customer. In this case, I found just a couple of quirks and some very stellar features.
On the plus side:
- Very easy-to-use keyboard, comfortable for a 40-year speed typist.
- Color options available were nice, although there are more options available through the Dell website – naturally, since the ones ordered through Dell (except those in the Dell Outlet) are built-to-order. Best Buy carries the most popular, which makes perfect sense. I opted for the sky-blue model, which is blue only on the lid, with the rest being glossy jet black.
- The resolution on the display is spectacular!
- It came with a built-in webcam, which I haven’t had occasion to use yet but I like having it, since in the past I’ve had to use external ones which are cumbersome, easy to misplace and just plain ugly.
- Video processing speed is great, well beyond what I’m used to, even though this particular model doesn’t have the dedicated video memory of the nVidia adapter (it uses the Intel chipset which shares memory with the regular system RAM). As I write this, I’m watching an episode of Caprica on Hulu.com, which is running smoothly despite being a “background” task, and a couple of other apps are also running in the background.
- The system came with Windows 7 Home Premium, 64-bit, on an AMD64 processor. Nice! 32-bit Windows makes use of almost all the 4Gb of memory, but not quite. Going with 64-bit Windows gives it just that much more usable memory. Originally, my XPS came with 32-bit Vista, but later on when I popped for a Microsoft TechNet Plus subscription, giving me access to all of Microsoft’s non-development software (servers, operating systems, applications, etc.) and I found out that my little XPS could support 64-bit, wow! Performance took a serious boost, even using Vista! OK, I’m not quite a Microsoft “fanboy” but I still like their products. But even Microsoft admits – now – that Vista’s performance could have been better, and Windows 7 proved it. I can’t fault them for waiting to say so, since everyone in the industry with more than a few years’ experience remembers the lessons that Adam Osborne taught us back in the early 80s. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me know and I will enlighten you.
On the minus side of the ledger:
- The glossy jet black case tends to pick up fingerprints
- Whatever the material is that they use for the case – or for the coating – the skin oils from the fingerprints are difficult to clean off without using some kind of solvent like Windex, and I’m reluctant to use anything at all for fear of marring the finish.
- Maybe I’m an old fart, but I miss the little flickering light that indicates hard drive activity. All my previous systems, both desktop and laptop, had indicators that showed when the computer was grinding away at the drive. Without it, if the computer display pauses for some reason and I don’t see the drive activity light, I get concerned that something’s hung up somewhere.
- They picked an odd memory configuration: 3Gb instead of 2 or 4. The out-of-box configuration is a 2Gb module for DIMM A and a 1Gb module for DIMM B. This pretty much guarantees that I’m going to have to replace the B module to take the system up to the documented maximum of 4Gb. My XPS fairly leaped in performance when I upgraded it from 2Gb to 4Gb a couple of years ago, so as soon as I can spare the $$ I’ll be popping for a 2Gb DIMM.
- For some wholly-unfathomable reason, the BIOS settings are configured so that the function keys are set not as Windows-type function keys (F1, F2, etc.) but as the Dell-specific keys to toggle wireless, change sound, play media files and so forth. In that mode, if you want to rename a file, you have to hold the blue "Fn" key down while pressing the F2 key, or you'll accidentally turn off the wireless network! It's necessary to go into the BIOS settings (press F2 while the power-on splash screen is showing) and toggle it so that the opposite is true. Then the F2 key actually renames files, while holding the Fn key and pressing F2 toggles the wireless (and so forth). [Added this information after the original blog entry was posted, as I forgot about it. Mea maxima culpa, my bad, etc. Sorry.]
Two items that are neither plus nor minus are the hard drive size and the choice of operating system. It came with a 250Gb drive, plenty adequate for home or small business users but nowhere near enough for me. Hey, I have three Western Digital one-terabyte hard drives hanging off this thing when I’m at my desk, so a little quarter-terabyte is piddly.
First thing I did was to salvage the 500Gb drive from my XPS (which was an upgrade in that system, originally only coming with an 80Gb drive – a sizeable chunk of laptop storage four years ago!) and swap that out in the 1545; the 250Gb drive went straight into an external USB hard drive case for portable storage. I haven’t touched that drive yet, just in case I have to put it back in the laptop for some reason (knock wood).
Second, Windows 7 Home Premium is perfectly fine for most people, but I prefer Windows 7 Ultimate. Thanks again to my Microsoft TechNet Plus subscription, I have the use of up to 10 licenses for each of just about everything Microsoft makes, so it was of no financial impact to go with the upgrade. (And hey, if you had the choice between a Honda and a Harley for the same price, which would you choose?)
I still have some older programs I use, such as QuickVerse 7.0 Deluxe (a costly product to upgrade to the current release), which won’t run under Windows 7 but which runs just fine under Windows XP. Windows 7 Ultimate gives me the Windows XP Mode, basically a Windows XP machine contained within Windows 7 (based on Microsoft’s VirtualPC technology).
Ultimate also lets me join a network domain, which is of little use to most home users but of vital importance to IT professionals like myself. Throw in the BitLocker encryption technology and some extended backup capabilities – both of which should be standard for all versions of Windows 7 in my opinion! – and the decision to go with Ultimate becomes a no-brainer.
(I don’t use HomeGroup – yet – so that’s not an issue. It’s only available in Home Premium or Ultimate, but not in the Windows 7 Professional version. Also, the support for an additional 35 different languages in Ultimate wasn’t a factor, as I have a hard enough time just with English…! A complete comparison of the three different versions is available here.)
So that’s pretty much it. Looking at both sides of the balance sheet, I’m confident that this was a good purchase decision. If you’re considering a similar purchase, it’s worth looking into.
Incidentally, my unit was purchased at the Best Buy store #110 on Tyler St. in Riverside, CA. I can’t say much either way on the purchase experience there, since I knew that this was the unit I wanted. I pretty much just went in, picked out the color and plunked down the cash. One thing of note, though: I had to ask for the basic system – the ones that were on the sales floor were “pre-configured,” meaning they had been bench-checked and equipped with a few extra items like a full-version anti-virus program (and an additional $69 tacked onto the bottom line). I didn’t need any of that, so the salesman had to go into the back-room storage for an un-touched unit. Something to be aware of when shopping anywhere, as this is a common practice at full-service retailers.
Questions and comments welcome, as always.
On Wednesday this week, I called the Press-Enterprise newspaper here in Riverside, CA to subscribe. At the time I called, they said it was too late in the day to arrange to start service the next day, but it would be no problem to have the paper start arriving on Friday (that’s today).
This morning, no paper. Customer Service doesn’t open until 7am, but their website was up 24/7 so I put in a note on their online service form to indicate that I had not received my paper that day.
7:30am rolls around, still no paper. I called them directly, and was told that it should have arrived not later than 6am on weekdays, 7:30am on weekends, they apologized and said they would notify the delivery supervisor and get a paper right out to me.
9am rolls around, still no paper. Another call, another round of apologies and promises of a delivery.
11am, still nothing. Another call, a promise this time of notifying management that there was a problem.
It’s after noon now, still no morning newspaper.
If this is any indication of the level of service I can expect from the Press-Enterprise, my next call will be to demand a refund. I think I’ve been patient enough… Argh.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I tried to do the survey on my pharmacy receipt, which would have been a glowing one had I been able to get past the first step, but it wouldn't recognize the fact that I had selected a category for the first comment even though I =HAD= chosen "Pharmacy" as that category. Therefore, I could not complete the survey. Therefore, I could not be entered in the drawing for the $3,000! You guys had me 110% satisfied up to that point. Too bad you had to tarnish the record by a bummed-up survey page.
Here's the deal. I went to two different pharmacies for my prescription. Neither one had it in stock. One -- at the doctor's office -- would have it in two days, but I thought maybe my regular Rite-Aid pharmacy would have it.
Wow, not only did they not have it in stock, but the only person who could order it was the pharmacy manager, and he was out on vacation! They wouldn't attempt to contact another Rite-Aid to find out if one of their own stores had it in stock, either.
Hmmm, there's a Walgreen's right down the street by where I get on the freeway, maybe THEY have it....
Not only did they have it, they said it would take just a few minutes to get it done. And they offered to have their system automatically text my cell phone to let me know when it was ready. So I could just go out to the car, kick back with a magazine or even take a nap. The only disappointment was that it was ready SO FAST I barely had time to get comfortable in the car before I had to go back in and get the Rx!!!
So all of this would have gone into your survey, but I couldn't get past the first page of the survey site. Bummer, guys!
Hey, you still have me as a customer, but I was really disappointed about missing out on my chance for the money.
What can I say? :) //Steve//
Monday, May 31, 2010
A couple of observations…
At our local church, the pastor makes a point of recognizing veterans of all branches of the service during the Sunday service on Memorial Day weekend (since Veteran's Day isn't always on a Sunday). God bless him, he also remembers to honor our spouses, who are as important to our military service as we are!
Yesterday after church, we were at the gas station, waiting in line to fill up. At the pump, an elderly gentleman with a walker was waiting for the attendant to bring his change out. The young lady behind him went in to “expedite” that, while I helped him into his car. We talked briefly, and I asked him if he was a veteran. Yes, he was, retired from the Air Force in 1962. He was a pilot on four-engine aircraft – a fact I got from him after a couple of more questions. (He was ever so slightly reluctant to go into it.) I thought he might have meant B-47s or whatnot, but it turns out his “four-engine aircraft” were B-17 and B-24 bombers over Europe during World War II!
My wife honked at me once to remind me that there was a line, so I respectfully got him into his truck and saluted as he settled in. After he left, I told her that this man flew through hell and back, many times, and lived to tell the tale. He deserved a little respect from the generations that followed him into the service. She realized at that moment exactly how much that meant to someone like me, and wisely dropped the subject. :) I think my daughter and granddaughter, both of whom were also in the car, might not understand quite how important that was to me to have the privilege of helping someone out who gave so much, but maybe someday they’ll understand…
An online cartoonist, going by the name Farva, has a daily strip called Air Force Blues. Today’s strip says pretty much all there is to say about Memorial Day. You can see it here – and I recommend strongly that you do.
…and chaos reigns!
We pulled up stakes from the Wildomar house on Saturday, 15-May. VIP Mayflower came and picked up everything, and plunked us down at the new place in Corona. As they did before – they’ve moved us at least one time before – they took good care of us. Money was pretty critical this time, so I asked if they could match or beat the quote from another mover for the cost of packing. (We were trying to do our own packing to save money, but there was just so much stuff, and with my limited capabilities since the back surgery I was just not up to it.) They beat the quote, so our move came in at just under $2k for all that stuff!!! The place we’re in now is smaller, so it’s taking us a while to get everything settled in to the reduced capacity of our new home. But we’ll get there.
The chaos factor has increased, since our oldest daughter and granddaughter have moved back here from New Mexico. They’re in the process of finding jobs and a place to live, so the nest has gone from empty back to being to very full for the time being. It’s a little stressful, especially for me, but I think after a while I’ll be okay with it. I love ‘em both to pieces, but my problem (and it’s MY problem, nothing against them!) is that we haven’t even got all of our stuff unpacked yet and now we’re having to deal with another U-Haul truck full of stuff. I got a little stressed-out over it all, and I reacted badly, so I’ve got some apologizing to do.
My laptop also went on the fritz just after we moved, so I’m having to make do with a desktop (no portability) with half the memory and almost a tenth of the disk space as my trusty XPS, so I’m looking at replacement options. The optical drive was going out on it anyway, so it’s probably just as well that I have to replace it, but it’s not something I can really afford right now.
We also had to deal with the expense of replacing the engine in our car, since the engine blew recently. More on that one in a coming post. Brace yourself on that one – lots of drama, including the betrayal by someone whom I thought was a very good friend.
Anyway, we’re here. I’ve sent out a change of address email to a list of friends, but if you’re reading this and didn’t get the email, let me know. Some addresses came back as no longer valid, and I don’t have email addresses for everyone I know.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Just read a great joke in email:
An older gentleman had an appointment to see the urologist who shared offices with several other doctors. The waiting room was filled with patients. As he approached the receptionist's desk, he noticed that the receptionist was a large unfriendly woman who looked like a Sumo wrestler.
He gave her his name.
In a very loud voice, the receptionist said, "YES, I HAVE YOUR NAME HERE; YOU WANT TO SEE THE DOCTOR ABOUT IMPOTENCE, RIGHT?"
All the patients in the waiting room snapped their heads around to look at the very embarrassed man. He recovered quickly, and in an equally loud voice replied, 'NO, I'VE COME TO INQUIRE ABOUT A SEX CHANGE OPERATION, BUT I DON'T WANT THE SAME DOCTOR THAT DID YOURS.'
Moral of the story: DON'T MESS WITH OLD FOLKS.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I learned a very important lesson in the past couple of weeks. A very wise friend told me that it’s a little bit selfish to refuse to allow someone to help you when you need it. To do so denies the person wanting to help you from receiving the blessings that come to those who want to help.
That didn’t quite hit home until this week. Usually we’re the ones that do the helping and giving. This week we’ve hit some personal crises of our own, which seemed insurmountable at the time. Our church family stepped in to provide the help we so desperately need. My normal reaction would be to thankfully decline the help, but now I’ve learned the difficult lesson of thankfully accepting the blessings that others want to give.
It’s a hard lesson, one that’s taking a lot of prayer on my part. I’m not a “taker” – far from it. I only hope that I’m able someday to give back to those who are giving so much of themselves to help us in our time of need.
PS: A profound and heartfelt “thank you” to those of you who have so faithfully provided support and prayer for both Claudia and me during my recent hospitalization. I’m eternally grateful to all of you, and especially those who have been there to support my wife during this time. By being there for her, you’ve helped her be there for me – and without her, I seriously doubt I’d be here to post this to you. She’s the love of my life, someone I really don’t deserve but am grateful beyond words to have in my world.
At one time, I was getting a monthly booklet with daily devotionals called “Our Daily Bread,” produced by the Radio Bible Class (RBC) organization.
Now they have an online version at http://odb.org which has each day’s devotional online. Well worth checking out.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
My daughter, Shawna, gave me this some time back. I kind of take it for granted but today for some reason it just caught my eye in a special way, so I thought I’d share it with the world.
A few years ago she was shopping around and found this little trinket:
Believe it or not, it’s an old 2400-baud internal PC modem that someone mounted on a base, including part of the motherboard!!! Then whoever this inventive soul was mounted a clock on it!
A simple little trinket, but it’s one of my cherished possessions. So no, you won’t see it up on eBay – at least not mine! :)
PS: Yes, boys and girls, at one time having a 2400-baud modem meant you really had a hot system! (I once had a 1200-baud half-duplex modem – wouldn’t go full duplex on my Apple II Plus – and was envied, so that dates me a bit.)
Monday, March 15, 2010
I don’t know how many messages I get every day from well-meaning friends – and family members! – who see something heart-warming in their mailbox and forward it along to everyone they can think of. I appreciate seeing a lot of them, some not so much, but before I forward anything like that I always check the most reliable source I have yet found to make sure they’re real before sending them on.
The Snopes web site at www.snopes.com is by far the most reliable source I’ve yet discovered for back-checking to find out if such-and-such a forwarded message is real or not. Some have turned out to be legitimate. Others started that way but morphed out of control over the years. But the bulk of the stuff that I get forwarded to me turns out to be just plain bogus.
Today I got one that was probably the greatest story I had seen in a long time. I so wanted it to be real, but I had to check. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. It wasn’t a hoax, just an article of fiction written for a magazine in 1998 and has since been treated as fact and forwarded along. Details are here for those who are interested.
If you read it, you’ll know why I wished it were true.
Anyway, the point is, PLEASE back-check anything you read before forwarding it along. Do your part to keep the volume of email traffic down as much as possible. Your mail provider will thank you. (Well, maybe not but you can give yourself a “warm feeling inside” by knowing you did the right thing.)
I’m finding myself more and more drawn to the idea of using electronic magazines rather than print. Not surprising, considering I come from the deep end of the geek pool, right?
Anyway, a lot of my magazines come to me in electronic form, either in PDF format or via the Zinio service. There are a few other such services, but Zinio is the only one I’ve found that’s really worth bothering with.
One thing I usually do with print magazines when they come in is to quickly page through each one and dog-ear the pages where an article or ad appears which is of interest to me. Later, when I have time to get into the serious reading part, I just flip through and go to the pages with the corner folded, and read those articles.
Zinio has a cool feature where you can annotate the information on your page. You can either use the “highlighter” mode and put a highlight on the article title or advertisement of interest, or you can put a little Post-it type of note on the page with whatever notes you want to make – the digital equivalent of jotting down notes in the margin of the magazine.
The problem with that approach on print magazines is that it would require you to page through the whole magazine to find where the highlights and post-its are located, unless you “dog-ear” the pages to mark which pages have notes. Zinio makes that easier with the option to “Show Annotation List.” It puts a list on the right side of the window with a list of all of the annotations you’ve made in the magazine that’s currently open. Click on the annotation in the list, and you go straight to that page. Once you’ve finished dealing with whatever you noted, you can delete the post-it note or erase the highlight, and move on to the next thing.
I haven’t yet discovered a way to do that in Adobe Reader yet, but give it time. I know it can be done in the full Acrobat software, but unless you have a need to create PDFs that are more involved than just using the “print-to-PDF-format” option, getting Acrobat for something like this is more like swatting a fly with a sledge hammer. Give it time, though, I’ll either find that feature in the free Adobe Reader program, or a free or inexpensive alternative to it somewhere else. Stay tuned.
PS: The only down-side I’ve found so far in using Zinio is that if your magazines come with a free DVD included, you don’t get that DVD with the electronic version. At least, that’s the case with the publications to which I presently subscribe. Hopefully as more publishers sign on to the electronic-publishing format, they’ll determine a way to make that possible.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
We were very pleasantly surprised this afternoon to find a greeting card in the mail, unsigned and unidentified other than a Santa Ana, CA postmark, containing a $100 gift card from Stater Bros. supermarkets!
Lord knows, we certainly can use it, and we’re grateful beyond words for the help. I just wish I knew whom to thank for this very welcome gift! If by chance our mysterious benefactor happens to read this….
MONTREAL: SLAIN JOURNALIST'S SON CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT
The Canadian government is defending its handling of the case of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. Ms. Kazemi died in police custody in Tehran in 2003 after being beaten and tortured. Canada's government has expressed its dissatisfaction over Iran's investigation into her death. Her son, Stephan Hazhemi, has sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in which he accuses the government of uttering empty words of condemnation while failing to support them with action against Iran. A spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says that the government has consistently spoken out against human rights abuses in Iran.
I’m wondering, what sort of action DOES Mr. Hazhemi think is appropriate? Should Canada go to war over this? I understand how he must feel, and I know I’d be in an absolute fit if I were in his shoes, but the wheels of diplomacy and international relations don’t exactly run at NASCAR speeds, and there is only so much that one nation can do with regards to the actions of another, short of actual military action.
So I’m curious, what sort of action does Mr. Hazhemi want the Canadian government to take?
Friday, February 19, 2010
One of the things that concerns me as a support guy is the tendency of laptops to overheat when operating “flat” on the tabletop. I have one, admittedly several years old, that will shut itself down after about a half hour of operating like that.
My previous solution has been to use whatever’s handy to prop up the back of the laptop so that it gets some decent airflow. Unfortunately, that “whatever’s handy” item isn’t always handy.
I’ve been using them on my main laptop for several years, and I’m satisfied enough with their value vs. price (US$11.49) to take the time to write this up. (And no, I have no connection with Cyberguys beyond being a long-time and very satisfied customer.)
I just ordered three more sets to fix up my wife’s netbook and a couple of laptops that I’m setting up. The packages look like this:
They have adhesive backing, and they can be removed, at least according to the instructions, although they also caution that it may leave some adhesive residue behind. So I would (1) plan carefully where you plan to put them on the laptop, and (2) plan on not removing them.
When they’re on, they look something like this (on my wife’s netbook, an Acer Aspire One):
Once installed you have two legs that can be folded out. The smaller one is 1”, the larger is 1-3/8”. The smaller one also has the rubber padding on it, so that if you do need to leave it flat, it has less of a tendency to slip around.
Folded out, they look like this (on an old Dell Inspiron 1100 I’m planning to reuse):
In this case, I’m using the longer legs to prop this laptop up. As you can see, with the legs folded out there’s plenty of room for airflow through the fan opening on the bottom of the computer, into the system and out through the vents in the center and the viewer’s far left of this laptop. Using the SpeedFan utility, which I use to monitor the temperature of the CPU, I notice a significant improvement between not using the legs and having them folded out.
BTW, I took the photo with the laptop on a rug just to provide some contrast to make it easier to see the legs, but I don’t normally use it that way. :)
Again, I have no connection whatsoever with either Cyberguys.com or LapWorks, other than simply being a customer.
Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
My wife has – at my prompting – taken the “giant leap” into the world of social networking. I’ve got her set up now on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn! She’s not a blogger yet, but give me some time to work on her…
Saturday, February 13, 2010
We sure do have the prettiest sunrises and sunsets here in Wildomar, California. This one showed up on the weather page at SWRNN.com (SouthWest Riverside News Network):
Virga over Wildomar: Cone clouds of water vapor reach for the earth. Photo courtesy of John Garrett.
As of right this minute, it’s here, just in case you want to see it for yourself. (Corydon and Union is the street location from which the photo was taken.)
We are also extremely grateful for the rain this season. Our total accumulation in Wildomar this season is just over 11 inches. I know many areas have suffered enormous damage from the rain, and we’ve had our share of road problems and mudslides, but despite all that it’s still a welcome relief from the long drought and the high water rates we’ve had to pay over the past few years.
Allan’s truck out front of our house, getting an undercarriage wash…
Neighbors next door could have done some “brownwater” rafting…!
Across the street, more of the same. At one point, the water runoff from up the hill was enough to completely fill the street from curb to curb. (Uphill is to the right of these pictures.)
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
A while back, I talked with Tom Revell of Zhorn Software regarding a comparative review of his Stickies program. The object was to compare Stickies against the Sticky Notes program that comes with Windows 7, and the Quick Notes capabilities of OneNote 2007.
(Yes, I hyperlinked the heck out of the above paragraph. Call me crazy, but I thought it was a good idea to provide the links for your convenience…! Hey, nobody’s holding a gun to your head to make you click on any of them, right?)
Unfortunately, that was back in October, and a few things have happened between then and now. But it’s really going to get written and as soon as I get it done it’ll be right here. Honest!
OK, just suppose: you have this great game you’ve been using for years on your desktop or laptop system, but it requires that the CD be in the drive in order for the game to work. Up to now, that’s not been a problem, but you just got this cool new netbook and you want to play the game on the road. Only problem is, netbooks don’t have an optical drive. (Real-world solution for me was a Scrabble program from Hasbro for my wife to use on her netbook on the long commute to and from work.) So what to do…?
Depending on the CD, there’s a possible solution to be had in a product called PowerISO.
One of the components in this tool is the Virtual Drive Manager. If you create an ISO image of the CD and keep that on your hard drive (I put mine in the “C:\users\steve\ISO Images” folder), you can use the Virtual Drive Manager to “mount” the ISO file as a drive letter. To the computer, it looks just like a physical CD drive.
(Further instructions on how to use PowerISO and the Virtual Drive Manager can be found in the tutorials section of the PowerISO web site.)
Recommended: first create the .ISO file, mount it as a drive letter, then do the installation from that drive letter. Some programs will look for the CD on the same drive letter as that from which they were installed.
Also note: some DVDs will let you do this as well, so you can play the movie from the .ISO image without having an optical drive on your system. So you can watch some movies “on the go” on your netbook.
PS: In no way should the above instructions be construed as advocating any form of illegal copying of software, movies or other intellectual property. I am a firm believer, however, that making a copy of your legitimately-owned or –licensed media for the purposes of backing up or other reasonable use is, or should be, part of the terms of your license to use said media. Basically, this means you can do pretty much what you want with it for your own use, or to facilitate your using it, but not for distribution to others.
Monday, January 18, 2010
The postman showed up this week with an envelope from China Radio International (as in mainland China). They included their usual shortwave broadcast info and programming schedule, but also a couple of special items:
- A postcard commemorating “The Award Ceremony of ‘The 60th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China’ Global Knowledge Contest”
- A ‘Happy New Year” greeting card:
Not the most spectacular stuff in the world, but certainly a very pleasant surprise to find the mailman delivering to me!
Monday, January 11, 2010
I’m about to take a major plunge.
Presently I’m running 32-bit Windows 7 on my somewhat older but still adequate Dell XPS M1210 laptop, with 4Gb of memory and a decent CPU and graphics processor. So far it seems to work nicely, but I’m wondering if the 64-bit version might work a little better.
Tomorrow’s big experiment: swap hard drives for a little 180-Gb drive (to keep my original data safe on the big 500Gb drive presently installed!) and see how well everything loads up and boots.
Last time I tried this, it slowed everything to a crawl immediately after installing Office 2007, but that may have just an an oversight somewhere that’s been fixed by now.
Will let everyone know what happens when I do it. I’d also like to hear of any problem reports, comments or other matters regarding using this utility in Outlook, as transferring the image contents from other sources.
Good or bad, I’d love to hear from you!
Well, I’ve been looking at these two programs side by side for a while. OneNote is the best program, but right now I have no way of directly sending web pages directly from Groove (my current preferred browser for now) into OneNote. I can, however, send clippings from Groove over to Evernote now, which is a help, but I’d still like to see a Groove-to-OneNote extension. It’d help quite a bit.
If anyone knows of one, either a native OneNote clipping app for Chrome or a tool to transfer Chrome data directly over to OneNote, please leave a comment here or drop me a note at email@example.com and I’ll go check it out ASAP.
…for some frends of ours down in Daytona Beach, Florida. They’re complaining about 23 degrees above zero temperatures tonight, comparing it to an “arctic winter” (their words).
Listen, I grew up in Alaska. I worked on the flight line in the Air Force at Elmendorf AFB for three years, on the night shift, during the winter where it got to 30 degrees below zero, plus the wind chill. And even that wasn’t a real “Arctic Winter!”
In college, I was at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. We had – I kid you not – seventy degrees below zero, and not taking any wind chill into account. (If you factored the wind chill in, a gentle breeze would have factored in at under 114 below zero!) Now THAT is an “arctic winter.”
I feel for the orange growers and other farmers down there that are having their livelihoods threatened by crop freezes and such, but hay, these friends of ours are all a-flutter because they have a light dusting of snow on their roofs! Give me a break. :)
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Anyway, I'm known as @kb6ojs (my ham radio callsign) on Twitter, and I've added their cool little Widget here on the blog home page. I've had the account set up for some time, but never got 'round to doing much with it. That'll change. :)
Friday, January 1, 2010
I love this country. I’d rather die tha do harm to my country, or to anyone in it – military or civilian. I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else in the world. This is my HOME!
Even recently, I was asked online by a fellow aviation enthusiast about a component radio direction-finding system from the old HC-130 aircraft I worked on back in Alaska in the late 1970s. I’d been out of the service for over 20 years at that point, but I still take my security clearances and obligations seriously, so I contacted HQ USAF to find out what, if anything, I could respond to the inquiries from the public.
They were amazed, and grateful that I take my security clearance seriously even after all these years. They told me I could discuss anything I wanted about it, with the exception of the security frequencies and ranges which the tracker system could cover.
I followed those instructions to the exact letter, and thanked them for the time they took to look back in the archives and let me know what could be discussed.
That story right there should illustrate quite clearly the fact that I take my security clearances seriously. There are a lot of highly “tall tales” I could tell to regale my former military buddies, but I can’t.
So I sound like a pretty good candidate for having my secret clearance reactivated, wouldn’t you think? But unfortunately, since my family and I are in financial straits right now, with a bankruptcy pending and a possible loss of our home, it appears to the government that I am now in a position to be “bought” (or “financially compromised” in current lexicon), so that agents of foreign powers could conceivably buy my cooperation and sell out my country.
I can assure you – and anyone who could possibly be reading this obscure post, that it will be a cold day in Hell before anything like that would happen. I would gladly die rather than compromise my honor or my oath of allegiance to my country.
But Point Loma Naval Station didn’t see it that way. They declined my preliminary clearance – which would allow me to do some work on the project while the full clearance was issued. They also couldn’t take into account my prior service records, which would more than corroborate my statements above, but due to the time between my prior service and present day, those records are now boxed and stored somewhere in the bowels of the DoD personnel records center in St. Louis and thus are not readily accessible.
2009 didn’t turn out to be the best in my employment history. After being laid off at Wycliffe Associates, my only option within a reasonable distance from home was to sign on with Wal-Mart in Murrieta Hot Springs as an overnight restock associate (part-time).
Working at Wal-Mart was fun, especially with the team we had there. As with any organization – my time in the Military, any civilian jobs or volunteer groups with whom I’ve ever been involved – EVER -- there are always some screwoffs and some genuinely devoted hard-chargers, managers of varying degrees of competence and experience. I can work with just about anybody, and I can handle just about any conflicts or personal foibles among my co-workers (usually by just distilling it all down to a chuckle or two, or a disappointing shake of the head, and moving on to the next bump along the road.
But when that last option came up to go to work with Alutiiq to support the Navy down at Point Loma in San Diego, I jumped at it. For one thing, it meant working DAY shift, not all through the darkness of the night stocking shelves for the next day’s onslaught of bargain hunters at Wal-Mart.
Unknown to me, the security clearances and accesses that I had enjoyed throughout the late 70s through the mid-1980s don’t mean anything now, as they had to start all over. Yes, we had some financial setbacks this year, which caused us untold difficulties at home, but I hadn’t thought that my pre-existing Secret clearance from my Air Force days would be copromised by the fact that the current economical downturn has caused us to be in a precarious fiscal situation.
Apparently that, combined with some medical issues I’ve been dealing with over the years, make me some kind of security risk, maybe to the point where I can be “bought” in order to compromise security.
I can say without the very slightest doubt in my mind, at the top of my l lungs if anyone’s willing to listen:
So unfortunately, because of a complete comedy of paperwork, what could have been the best job for me in the 21st century was compromised by paperwork, find by an honest citizen and submitted into a system that couldn’t care less.
I hold no ill will against my Alutiiq coworkers, who were always supportive through the entire process, and especially to George and Amanda – not only our next-door neighbors but George was by boss at Alutiiq and a good and true friend – one who literally agonized over the fact that they would have to let me go because without that interim clearance, there’d effectively be no work for me to do!
Now i’ve been pounding the virtual bricks looking for work ever since, so if anyone knows of a place that need a computer technician with over 30 years of experience fixing everything from four-engine heavy jet transports and combat fighter aircraft, down to programming, maintaining and designing computer systems, applications and networks; setting up wired and wireless network systems in houses or small businesses; and just about anything else you can think of in terms of office equipment and technology…. Well, if you think of something like that, please let me know.
For the record, I’ve had extensive experience doing technical support for the following companies around the world:
- Nantucket Corporation
- Computer Associates
- Toshiba America Information Systems
- Motorcycle Safety Foundation
- dBASE Inc.
- Wycliffe Associates
For a full resume, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and i will be happy to send you one.
Hearing about “Captain Sulley” and his miraculous effort to save his passengers and crew when landing on the Hudson River early in 1999, I think that heroism outside the military is phenomally underrecognized. If there were a civilian equivalent of the Congressional Medal of Honor for non-combat act of heroism – just like Sulley’s water landing in the Hudson – then he should receive it. Have a military Congressional Medal of Honor, and a Civilian Congressional Medal of Heroism.
Sully should receive Medal #1.