dr_phil_physics: (hal-9000)
The WinTen We're Taking Over Your Computer Whether You Like It Or Not campaign by Microsoft continues, unabated.

I thought I had posted these Important Messages Upon Bootup back on 14 and 18 October, but I guess I hadn't. This first one is based on the theory that 110,000,000 people who don't know how to say NO, NOT YET, can't be wrong:

But only Millions love Windows 10? That's what, a few percent of the 110,000,000 who upgraded?

Microsoft also increased the threats, by announcing that (a) Windows 10 will be rolled into the Recommended Windows Update lists and (b) Windows 10 will become a Required Windows Update at some point. Wait -- how the hell can you reconcile a Required update with still providing support for Windows 7 and 8 and 8.1 up to their Drop Dead Dates?

Then there's today missive:

Am I the only one who's thinking of the movie Scrooged and the network's tag line, "Yule Love It!" ?

And more to the point, given it's mighty decline in recent years, from James Earl Jones "This is CNN" and the "You Give Us Half an Hour, We'll Give You the World" of Headline News -- is anyone seriously thinking that CNN is a good recommendation for ANYTHING, including which operating system you're running?

This ad campaign by Microsoft is so lame, no wonder it's running in little blue boxes on my computer desktop. They couldn't even find a bad ad agency to run these in print/TV/cable/media anywhere. Microsoft, you are still not inspiring confidence in this upgrade. (Although to be fair, the TV spots are pretty lame, too. Microsoft just can't run ads which tell you what the fuck they do. Instead, they talk about children born today into the blessed light of Windows 10 and love and happiness. Does ANYONE think that a child born today will be using Windows 10 when they're five years old in 2020? Ten in 2025? Fifteen in 2030? Windows 10 MIGHT settle down into a great product, I don't know, but I don't think it's the Microsoft version of Men In Black's "The last suit you'll ever own.")

As I have said before, I am not totally opposed to the concept of Windows 10. But the messages have been very bullying and I know some people who've had some real software and driver issues after upgrading to Windows 10 -- and the promised version rollback to their last working Windows system FAILED. That does not inspire confidence either.

I have a lot of legacy software and legacy files I need to use to get my work done. The upgrades from PC DOS (2.10/3.1/3.21/3.30/5.00/2000) to Windows 95/98SE/NT4 to 98Me/2000 to Vista/XP/7/8.x already have cost me access to some of the programs I use and make it difficult sometimes to read older files. After a year of struggling, I am happy enough with Word 2010 under Windows 7 -- I currently hate Word 2013 and have no experience with Office 365, though as I pointed out the other day (DW) (LJ), that one I am going to probably have to eat in 2016 as the University decides to sell its soul to Outlook.

Someday I'll probably buy a clean native Windows 10 machine -- but I don't want to waste my valuable time to run an upgrade to WinTen just because Microsoft says so. Not until WinTen gets some Service Packs under its belt. That's been my rules going way back to Windows NT 4 Workstation. Me and a whole lot of IT professionals.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

No Vote

Wednesday, 4 November 2015 12:35
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag)
No Vote Yet?

Yesterday was the first Tuesday in November, the traditional major fall election day. With the furious campaigning for President of These United States in the weeks and months leading up to Tuesday 3 November 2015... Oh. Wait.

It's just the off-year election after the mid-term election. We've still got a WHOLE YEAR of Presidential campaigning left.


No Vote?

So with election day rolling in, I couldn't remember hardly seeing ANY campaign signs anywhere, especially in Allendale, nor could I remember any Ottawa County or Michigan ballot proposals. So Monday night I checked, Googling "allendale mi ballot". The first hit was an Ottawa County site with several townships and other jurisdictions in the county -- but no mention for Allendale Twp. The Allendale Township site had a page for announcements -- and it was blank. Another website showed nothing for Allendale.

Would it kill the county or the township to put up a notice that there was NO Allendale Township election this round?

I did go down 84th Avenue in the morning and braved turning onto the M-45 traffic without benefit of a traffic light, so I could drive by the big church complex where elections are held -- no sign at the road saying VOTE TODAY.

Okay. Well, that's easy.

No! Vote

I don't normally delve into politics on this blog... but this hit the national news.

Back in September, I wrote about Cindy Gamrat (R) and Todd Courser (R) (DW) (LJ) and their shabby attempt to get back into the Michigan legislature:
In case you need context, Cindy Gamrat (R) and Todd Courser (R), managed to merge their offices in Lansing "to save money". Actually, though both married to other people, they used their shiny new combined office to cover their affair. It was eventually exposed, in part because the staff members refused to be part of the coverup. Courser thought he could put the dogs off the scent by producing a fake email smear campaign, outing him as gay -- apparently a fate worth than death or adultery.

In case you think this is only about the sex, remember they spent government money in order to conduct their affair. It was, apparently, a "mistake".

Rather than resign and let the State Legislature work on stuff like a third Real Try at funding desperately needed road repairs, they insisted on staying put until weeks of investigations and hand wringing and a vote late into the night resulted in... Gamrat being expelled from the State House and her brave suiter, Courser, bravely deciding to resign just before he was voted out as well.

Then this past week, Gamrat decided that since the voters hadn't weighed in on this, she was going to run for her seat in the special election. It is apparently legal to do so. But previously the Allegan County Republican Party had expelled her as well. Then Courser announced he was going to do the same -- run in the special election -- after getting approval (this time) from his wife.
Well, the results are in and neither Courser nor his girlfriend-not-his-wife will be going back to the legislature:

Gamrat came in third of eight candidates for the Republican special election primary, netting 9% of the vote. And in an 11 horse Kentucky Derby, Courser came in sixth with 4% of the vote. Thank goodness.

I was very peeved at both of these idiots, first for trying to use a "joint legislative office" to cover for their affair, second for Courser's idiotic plan to try to accuse himself of being gay, which he figured could be disproved, so when the rumors of the affair spread, no one would believe him. Third for not resigning when this all first blew up, because as God fearing good people and hardcore Tea Party Republicans, they couldn't imagine they did anything wrong. Thus forcing weeks of investigations, hearings and finally a long into the night vote, where the legislature expelled Gamrat and then Courser bravely let his girlfriend swing in the wind alone and resigned before he could be expelled, too. Which finally resulted in the two deciding that they should let their voters decide whether they should go back to their elected jobs as if nothing happened.

At her concession announcement at her home, Gamrat had her family on video call... from Florida. Right...

The special election itself will take place early in 2016.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (delete-hal)
Long time readers of this blog will know that I have used dinosaur applications for years. Office 95 was good enough to write in. I had a large base of documents and spreadsheets written. WHY must I switch versions of Office? Especially when they keep changing the damned document formats.

I used Office 2003 with the Office 2007 file extensions for some years now on my Windows XP machines, for compatibility with more modern documents. All the while still being able to use Office 95 as well in XP. Going to Windows 7 forced me to go to only Office 2003 on KATNISS, and Wendy's Windows 7 machines, ZEPPELIN and CAROUSEL, have Office 2010. And I have found an accommodation with the Word and Excel 97-2003 file versions. Then came Office 2013 on OUEST, the first university machine they've ever given me.

Yes, files are still compatible. But what the hell is with this obnoxious animation, which causes the screen to pseudo-scroll herky-jerky? Worse, I couldn't even turn the damned thing off.

Today I finally tried again, using Google on "office 2013 turn off animations" and lo-and-behold, success:
This week, Rafael has published the fix in his post Disabling animations in Office 2013, which still works in the currently-available Public Preview version of Office 2013. It’s available as a downloadable registry tweak which you can easily install. But the entry within looks like so:


To see the effect, you’ll need to reboot your computer.

To reverse the effect, change the value of the added DWORD to its default of 0.
I hate crap like that. You shouldn't need a Registry hack just to turn off some goddamned Microsoft Office "feature" that crept in through the pet door in the middle of the night and vomited on the new carpeting.

But further down someone else was more sensible:
kinghunter77 on Jun 23, 2013

Another way to turn off animations in Office 2013, which does NOT involve going into the registry, is as follows (quoted from Excel 2013 built-in help):

"Turn off Office animations

Office 2013 is the first release to use hardware acceleration throughout the user experience to deliver beautiful, fluid animations. But if you use your computer without a display or just prefer to block unnecessary animations, you have the choice to turn them off.

1.Open the Ease of Access Center (shown below) by pressing the Windows logo key + U.

2.Under Explore all settings, click Use the computer without a display.

3.Under Adjust time limits and flashing visuals, click Turn off all unnecessary animations (when possible).

4.Click OK."
Wait, this was in Excel 2013 Help?

I was so busy trying to find an Options screen or something, like every other version, that I'm not sure I tried Help. Of course, Help is no long Help. It is not sitting there on the right-hand pull-down menu. I think Help is on the FILE tab page in Word 2010. In Office 2013, you just have to know to click on the anemic grey "?" in the upper right-hand corner where no one ever looks.

But as to why I couldn't find a simple "turn off animations" checkbox, I was looking in the wrong place. Silly me, why should I use it as an option in Word 2013 or Excel 2013. It is completely OBVIOUS even to the most casual observer, that I should go to the section to "Optimize for blindness." (eye-rolls)

Really, Microsoft? That's where you put the fucking toggle? Under BLINDNESS?


And hey, it works!

Wow, now I can use Word 2013 and Excel 2013 without feeling seasick. And, it makes me a teeny-tiny bit more optimistic about Office 365, which we will have to use in 2016 in order to get campus e-mail. Because after using Word 95 for decades, out of Office 95, Office 97, Office 2003 -- then Office 2010 on Wendy's machines -- I _REALLY_ hated using Office 2013 on the university's laptop OUEST at work. Really. Hated.

I can't fix how the screens work, because I don't "own" this machine, and they've got some settings locked down tight. Ugh. I suppose this is why I happily owned my own machines for 22 years, even though it was obnoxious that I had to spend my own meager part-time teaching money for THEIR work.

Now, if only I could get MathType to truly support their older equations, so that Word doesn't blow up if I double click on an old equation block -- and have to retype the stupid thing...

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (7of9borg)
So mainly my cellphone is off. This morning I needed to call someone. Turn on phone. It doesn't find my Bluetooth earset right away, so I manually go in and do it.

In the middle of this I am interrupted by Messaging popping up telling me my online bill is ready. Clear that.

So now I'm ready to start dialing my phone number. Got the first four digits in and...

Oh, given my previous posting, you can probably guess that it was a countdown screen saying that Verizon was going to download software improvements to my LG Cosmos 3 phone in 29... 28... No opt out. Press OK. It downloads. New screen -- it's going to run the update in 3 minutes and will take 3 minutes to run.

This one, at least, has a Delay button, but since it already interrupted me, I just went ahead and ran it. Actually, I had two students come in, so I don't know what other "important" messages Verizon had to say.

But I tell you, these vendors really have to come up with a more civilized way of pushing updates to the users.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (delete-hal)
When I shut down ZEPPELIN at home Tuesday night, there were five updates to Windows 7. So I knew it would have to do some updating when it booted Wednesday evening. Applied 3912 updates, not all that many, considering how long it was updating the downloads last night.

And then you get to boot and Windows pauses to Configure your updates -- and then you get to go to work. Right? Isn't that why you paid money for a computer? To do work? And not just update some company's software?


ZEPPELIN was being really pokey, which happens because you have no good way of telling what the Sam Hell is going on in the background tasks. I had planned to post the Quiz 6 solutions for both classes this afternoon, but as I wrote, I deferred doing anything serious while OUEST was on battery (DW) (LJ) due to the power issues at work.

I had to create two JPEGs from screenshots for the PHYS-1070 Quiz 6 and a PDF for the PHYS-2070 Quiz 6 -- all of this complicated by having to work in both Windows 7 and editing my webpages in Windows NT4 in a virtual machine. This involves having a lot of windows open: Word, Acrobat Reader DC, Paint, Notepad, VirtualBox plus HoTMetaL Pro 4.0 and Ulead PhotoImpact 3.02 in NT4.

The virtual machine crashed when I booted it and I had to try again. Just as I was starting to do my file transfers between Windows 7 and Windows NT4 sessions, I realized there was another icon on the Taskbar below.

Turns out Windows 7 wanted to reboot to finish installing the updates and was running a counter down to forcing a reboot. This in a window WHICH WAS BEHIND EVERYTHING ELSE.

Now I've dealt with this crap before. Basically, it does the eager dog/pestering child routine -- Can we reboot now? Can we reboot now? Can we reboot now? And I swear it is doing this at 85% of the total billions of clock cycles, so drags the whole system down to where, not only does it not work very well, it won't even recognize for a while that you click the Postpone button Microsoft thoughtfully provided. Which, by the way, only restarts this hidden window and its insidious countdown to reboot doom, and polling for permission to reboot NOW, it slows the system down...

So Microsoft fails at coming up with a priority pop-up window for its very own operating system.

But really, it's worse.

Why the HELL did you wait twenty minutes, to where I was knee deep in open windows and doing a bunch of complex procedures, before deciding to let me know you trying to hold it in your pants you needed to reboot so hard?

Microsoft, here's a clue. Windows is YOUR fucking operating system. I think you know how to do a reboot. If this update REALLY needed to have a reboot, you could have built it into the update before I even logged into the computer. After all these years, you should know how to reboot Windows 7.

I'm sure they'd answer that this would delay the startup and... and... and... nothing, guys. Because when I did do the Restart, after interrupting my work and closing NT4 and all the other windows, there was an excruciatingly long Configuring Updates... 28%... 29%... pause... pause... pause... 30%... This was going to take a while.

FINALLY, I got my machine back and sat through more configuring and all. No doubt this was all updates related to something stupid, like future updating to Windows 10 or something else I don't need Right Now.

Man, somedays you gotta wonder if anyone in Redmond has every actually used a computer...

Dr. Phil

UPDATE: To add insult to injury, at 25:10 EDT, when I shut down ZEPPELIN, I saw the little yellow update shield next to Shutdown and sure enough, Update 1 of 1. How much you want to bet it's supposed some they fucked up yesterday? (evil-grin)

UPDATE2: 10-15-2015 Th 09:46 EDT -- Oh, lookee at that... ZEPPELIN at home is Windows 7 Home Premium. OUEST at work is Windows 7 Enterprise edition. I knew when I shut down yesterday that it had loaded 8 Updates. Today when I booted, it Applied 34,361 updates... and then it rebooted. So somebody at Microsoft is smart enough to manage Updates better, but only for big IT customers. Screw the Home users.
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-2)
Whew. Thursday. October. Made it.

Both my classes had their Exam 1s on Wednesday. So Sunday I had to write four exams -- both classes get a Form A and a Form B and we alternate exams and seats. Monday I had to write up the solutions. That was complicated because some of the MathType blocks I needed to edit were 10-15 years old -- and MathType 6.9a and Word 2010/2013 sometimes crash on some of these older blocks. Sigh. I finally ended up doing screenshots of the PDF of an old solution, and edited the equations in Windows 7 Paint and pasting them in as graphics. (!!) The kluges we do for love of Physics -- and hatred of Microsoft.

Arranged to get the exams copied and numbered on Monday.

Monday afternoon, my office hours were less lonely. Tuesday was a zoo. My Tuesday noon office hour is up in the Physics Help Room, so I had to go up there. And then we had charity benefit for Feeding America Tuesday evening in Holland, so I had to leave early. In between I had to type up a solution for a take-home quiz for my PHYS-1070 and get the webpages set up so I could load them just before I went home. Gosh -- uploaded at 2:59pm -- right on time! Amazing.

Tuesday evening was a bust, at least for doing work. The event and the meal were fabulous -- post coming Real Soon Now. Didn't even try to write when I got home.

Wednesday PHYS-1070 Exam 1 at 10am, PHYS-2070 Exam 2 at 1pm. PHYS-1070 graders came by and got their instructions around 2:30pm. I waited until 4:20, but the other graders were a no-show -- we had a 4pm appointment and I stayed late because at least one was teaching a lab. Don't know what happened yet.

Wednesday night -- it's the 30th of September and the end of a quarter, so it's deadline for the Writers of the Future, for which I still have some eligibility. I had started a story back on 28 August, which was to be the WOTF Q4 2015 entry. I've pondered the story -- but only had 105 words written. The plan was to attack it two weekends ago so it "wouldn't be a last minute rush"... Ha. I ended up being entertained in the ER early Saturday morning instead (DW) (LJ). So much for writing.

Then a week ago, on Thursday 24 September, on the drive in to work, I had a new idea. No! I don't want a new idea. I had just fleshed out what I wanted to do with the old story and... Uh-uh, new idea! Shiny! Good! Great visuals! Dammit. No, I am simultaneously writing two stories in my head. I opened a file on Friday the 25th and sketched out 1304 words. That's over 12 times what I had in the bag for the first story.

Fine. New new story. As usual for me. It happens every damned quarter. (grin)

I started in on the writing around 10:30pm. It's a midnight deadline... on the west coast. It did go fast. A small cast for a Dr. Phil short story -- and almost nothing to look up online, except for the spelling of a couple of words not in the Microsoft Word 2010 spellcheck. I had 5405 words by 1am. Print, revise. 5512 words by 1:57. Create RTF without cover sheet. Upload to WOTF at 2:04am EDT, or 2604 hours Wednesday -- 2304 hours PDT.

Done. Whew. Another entry -- my streak since 30 June 2002 is still intact. Just read through it and amazingly didn't find any typos... yet. On the other hand, there's a potentially annoying repeated word right at the ending. Can't figure out if it's artistic enough. (evil-grin) Well, we'll see. My WOTF Q3 2015 story actually got an Honorable Mention from the new judge -- amazing! He's hated most of what I've submitted since K.D. Wentworth died.

On another note, I have decided I really loathe Word 2013, which came on OUEST, the university's laptop. I cannot figure out how to turn off the animation, where it slides and skips onto pages as you scroll or PageUp/PageDn. Come on, can't you just pop to the new location LIKE EVERY OTHER EARLIER VERSION OF WORD EVER? In Word 2010, clicking on the Page 1 of 21 in the lower left, brings up the Ctrl-G goto page number box. Not so in 2013, which brings up this "Navigation" window which does everything but allow you to goto a page number. Back to Ctrl-G, I guess. And then there's the look of the pages. Someone in the university locked down the defaults so I can't change the wallpaper -- it's a brilliant white -- and the windows are overly bright as well. All my usual manipulations don't help. I guess you can have any color you want on this machine as long as it's BRIGHT WHITE.

The latest is that Word apparently made a power grab and was the program to open two desktop shortcuts -- RTF reminder files that I had set up to open with Write. Having reset the Properties on the shortcuts, now Word 2013 had to sulk and whine about it no longer being the default program for opening documents. You know, Word 2013? Deal with it. It's just those two shortcuts.

Anyway, I've still managed to do a little work on the novel -- more time has freed up now. Onward!

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal


Sunday, 20 September 2015 17:21
dr_phil_physics: (miss-michigan-usa)
Today's Sunday GRPress also had, on page I1 of the Opinion section, the following editorial at the top of the page. It was a joint statement of the editorial boards of The Press and the Kalamazoo Gazette, which both encompass the 80th Michigan state legislative district, and in its entirety is says, "No":

It took several tries to get this -- the Kindle Fire HD has a user-facing camera only, so I had the paper in one hand and the Kindle in the other. But the shutter release is on the screen and even with the case, the Kindle is slippery. Finally I rested the Kindle on the top of my four-footed cane. (evil-grin)
©2015 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I posted this to Facebook, adding the comment:
Philip Edward Kaldon And the cowardly adulterous compatriot who was the other half of this pair and resigned rather than be expelled, after wasting money and time in the Michigan legislature, has decided he may run for his old seat. Agreeing with his girlfriend that the voters should decide, with permission from his wife. Ugh. -- Dr. Phil
In case you need context, Cindy Gamrat (R) and Todd Courser (R), managed to merge their offices in Lansing "to save money". Actually, though both married to other people, they used their shiny new combined office to cover their affair. It was eventually exposed, in part because the staff members refused to be part of the coverup. Courser thought he could put the dogs off the scent by producing a fake email smear campaign, outing him as gay -- apparently a fate worth than death or adultery.

In case you think this is only about the sex, remember they spent government money in order to conduct their affair. It was, apparently, a "mistake".

Rather than resign and let the State Legislature work on stuff like a third Real Try at funding desperately needed road repairs, they insisted on staying put until weeks of investigations and hand wringing and a vote late into the night resulted in... Gamrat being expelled from the State House and her brave suiter, Courser, bravely deciding to resign just before he was voted out as well.

Then this past week, Gamrat decided that since the voters hadn't weighed in on this, she was going to run for her seat in the special election. It is apparently legal to do so. But previously the Allegan County Republican Party had expelled her as well. Then Courser announced he was going to do the same -- run in the special election -- after getting approval (this time) from his wife.

The Detroit Free Press said "Disgraced lawmakers Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat apparently think their constituents are suckers, as they seek to win back their seats."

Should either succeed, they will have proudly thumbed their noses at the morality they have previously professed and, given their stand on cutting costs, forced the state to expend a small fortune on both their investigations, hearings, votes and, of course, the special election. Oh, I suppose all those costs were ALREADY spent -- all because they neither one of them were capable of doing the honorable thing and resign from office once their duplicity was discovered.

But I guess it's a Michigan thing.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (7of9borg)
Back on 17 August, when I wrote about Windows 10 (DW) (LJ), I meant to speculate that perhaps Microsoft would start stuffing the files onto your hard drive, whether you wanted them to or not. I'd already assumed this as a possibility.

Thanks to Steve Buchheit, for finding this article from Ars Technica which says, YES, this is actually happening.
Microsoft is downloading Windows 10 to PCs, even if you don’t “reserve” a copy
Files of up to 6GB in size showing up in a hidden directory.
Worse, from the article it suggests that this Microsoft update KB3035583 repeatedly tries to install. The update page, "Update installs Get Windows 10 app in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1", is pretty much unintelligible gobbledygook.

Duh, duh, DUH-HHH. Windows 10 is coming for you. You cannot resist us...

So... let's recap.

You choose not to upgrade to Windows 10 now. Microsoft goes ahead and downloads 6GB of files onto your HDD. And keeps trying.

What could possibly go wrong?

My objections are three-fold. One, I am tired of any and all manufacturers thinking that my HDD real estate is there's to play with without asking. Two, given compatibility issues with devices and software, to say nothing of workflow, the $64,000 horror scenario is Windows deciding to upgrade you to WinTen against your will. Three, 6GB is a LOT of disk. But it is even MORE download bandwidth.

Periodically we find that our web access crawls. Often on the Kindle Fires, it ends up being software updates being pushed by Whispernet -- the only reason we know they happen is that either an icon shows up in the beginning of the carousel that we haven't used in a while, or the program launches from scratch when you select it, or Norton reports that So-and-so Is Clean in the Activity Log.

But downloading 6GB over DSL is wasting a lot of my bandwidth. Worse, if I was on the road and using haiku, our Verizon WiFi hot spot, 6GB exceeds the amount of bandwidth we usually buy in the pay-as-you-go package.

It's MY damned computer, it's MY damned hard drive and it's MY damned bandwidth. If Microsoft wants to buy me resources, then they can download all they want. But otherwise, you fuckers, ASK!

I swear, the manufacturers think we buy computers just to install their updates. They don't think we ever have WORK to do.

(The only silver lining is that I don't have to worry about this at work -- this doesn't apply to Enterprise editions of Windows 7/8/8.1)

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

Win Ten

Monday, 17 August 2015 16:36
dr_phil_physics: (hal-9000)
So, it's the summer of 2015 and Microsoft Windows 10 is upon us.

It will take time to determine if this Win Ten is a good witch or a bad witch. Redmond's track record is not particularly stellar on upgraded OSes. Windows 2000, for example, shipped with what, 50,000 known bugs? NT4 shipped without a working ability for a user to change a password. So if you think I would use the initial release of Win Ten -- you're crazy.

BTW, I'm jokingly calling it Win Ten, because Windows naming conventions have been so varied -- 95, 98SE, Me, NT, 2000, XP, 7, 8.1 -- and not only did they skip Windows 9, the competition went to Roman numbers with OS X.

There's no question that Microsoft needs a clean new operating system. Windows 8 was a stupid attempt to turn real computers into tablets and phones. We didn't ask for that. Windows 8.1 has improved operability, or so I am told. I wouldn't touch with gloves on. But which features? And what stuff will run on it?

I've already had to deal with dropping 16-bit and MS-DOS legacy support by Windows XP -- and Windows 7 doesn't run a lot of legacy software I could still make work in Windows XP. It's not a matter of me being cheap and not buying new versions of software. It's that some of my software HAS no new versions. And others, no longer work in the way I need them to.

As noted here (DW) (LJ), I have just resurrected NT4SP6a on two machines using Oracle's free VirtualBox virtual machine system in order to support legacy software. NT4 forever!

File format creep. Software version creep. OS version creep. Just stop it, dammit!


Wednesday 6 June 2015 00:12 EDT, a new icon appears on the right side of my System Tray. It looks like a four-panel window in perspective. "Get Windows 10" it said. Free upgrade from Windows 7 Home Premium. Hmm...

Actually, it's rather nice of Microsoft to actually offer a free upgrade. They're always complaining about having to support older OSes after they release a new one. Trying to bounce all the Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users up to 10 sounds like a plan. Maybe Windows 10 learned from Mac OS X. (evil-grin)

And I guess they did a slow roll out. If you ordered the upgrade, you'd be told when it was available. Again, clever. Of course, I've heard mixed reviews of whether the status of Windows 10 drivers and program support works.

I will never understand the thinking that when you get a new machine or new OS, you would just throw away 20 to 30 years of work and act as if that never happened. The real world doesn't work that way. My complaint for a LONG time is that I don't think the people designing and testing these things actually expect people to USE computers. Seems to me a lot of the computer business thinks that I own a PC simply to run Windows Update, Norton Live Update and install new versions of Adobe Flash. Urgh?

Then, with the release of Microsoft Windows 10, there's the issue of advertising. I swear, cell phones and Microsoft -- they don't seem to know how to sell these things. I mean, think of it. Most cell phone ads talk about very useless things and most of them never even talk about using the damned things as a phone. Their rationale for owning a smart phone is pretty darn vapid. It's made worse because ads for non cell phone products, but use cell phones, are equally clueless. Consider the current Eggo waffles commercial with the whole family sitting around the table texting "leggo my eggo".

So... the Win Ten ads? Yeah, the baby ads. They show a bunch of babies and claim that they'll grow up and not have to know about passwords and they'll be able to draw stuff on the screen. Great. You think Win Ten's login procedure is going to rid the world of passwords? Good luck with that. And making cheesy crayon mods of nice sharp pictures, ooh, how classy. Besides, think of it. How long does a typical Windows OS version last? Do you REALLY think these babies will be using Win Ten by the time they're teenagers? I don't think so.

This is NOT the Men In Black Last Operating System You'll Ever Need.

And then there's this:

Not content with the little System Tray icon in my Windows 7 Home Premium, we now get a Win Ten Upgrade pop up box. Get Now! Limited Time!

One -- I have heard that the free upgrade will run for a year after the Win Ten release. So, no panic. Plenty of time for Win Ten Service Pack 1 to get shipped and companies to improve the drivers situation.

Two -- I can even live with the pop up popping up at login. But... on the night August 14th, in one session, I had to kill the little blue fucker SEVEN times.

That is abusive.

And it doesn't endear me to you, Redmond.

Grow up. And figure out how to make a good OS, keep it up to date, keep it secure and How To Market It.

I'll give you time. I'm not going anywhere. And I'm still using XP and 7 -- plus NT4.

Dr. Phil

UPDATE 8/26/15 W: And then, of course, there's this from WMU's OIT:
The Office of Information Technology recommends that faculty and staff not upgrade to Windows 10 at this time. Any time a new operating system comes out, there is a fair amount of testing that has to occur to ensure that the upgrade will work with Banner and other enterprise systems. This testing is occurring, and an announcement will be made when it is concluded and upgrades may occur.

Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal


Sunday, 5 July 2015 01:50
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag-13)
Ah, the annual watching of 1776.

The movie version of the terrific musical play is a near perfect thing, with a stellar cast, very quotable lines and wonderful songs. There's some compression of characters, and "stuff", I'm sure. But as a discussion of the sausage making of a country, it is a worthy companion to the brats and potato salad of the day. Frankly, there really aren't many movies about the Revolutionary War, so it's no wonder that the faded single page document isn't better known or understood, let alone the Revolution or the first century of our country.

So, History Channel is doing Sons of Liberty right now. I can't help but think they have sexed up the cast. And the actual passage of the Declaration -- and I've only seen a few minutes of Part 3 of 3, mind -- is shown as less contentious. Or in TV parlance, they sped up the end. So they could cut to Washington reading to his troops. If the movie/play is focused on John Adams, it looks like this production zeroed in on Sam Adams. I suppose it's disingenuous of me to be suspicious of the Samuel Adams beer sponsorship... naw, not in 2015...

The Sons of Liberty might, in fact, be less problematic than my first impression. I'd need to investigate further. How old were these men? Did Patrick Henry address the Continental Congress? I shouldn't -- and have not -- felt that a musical should be considered canon. But History Channel simply can't be thought of an authoritative source these days, which is a terrible shame.

Oh... maybe I shouldn't be so generous. A quick Google search produced a lot of snark, so rather than quote the L.A. Times, I'll go with the more incendiary History Channel Presents Laughably Inaccurate 'Sons of Liberty'. (grin)
Okay, it wasn't quite as bad as "Sam Adams: Vampire Hunter" but it was close. I am referring to the History channel's series "The Sons of Liberty" in which the real life Sam Adams, who was a middle-aged portly guy by the time of the opening scene in 1765, comes off as a young athletic urban ninja hopping up to the rooftops of Boston to evade arrest by British troops. And that was just one of the many laughable inaccuracies of the History channel's presentation of the era leading up to the American Revolution.
And that article precarious other sources who end up calling it worthless.

Great. But, it's not like people today need to know any facts.

Anyway, it's after midnight and we are under mortar bombardment from the neighbors. Damned representative government in Michigan thought pulling most of the restrictions on fireworks in Michigan was a good idea. Hopefully the grasses aren't dry enough that they'll burn the house down.

Viva le Revolution!

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (delete-hal)
Ah, the law of unintended computers...

So before the university got me OUEST at work, my main machine last fall was LARA, an HP 1030NR netbook running Windows XP Home Edition Version 2002 Service Pack 3. I brought it home after the Fall semester, since I would be using OUEST at the office. The last day I used LARA was 14 December 2014.

One thing I knew I'd have to do when I brought LARA out was to install Norton Security. It had Symantec Endpoint Protection -- the free university's version of Norton Anti-Virus. But ZoneAlarm, whose basic firewall I have been using since about 1996 when I got my first Pentium class Windows 95/NT machine, was dropping updates to Windows XP. So rather than enable the Windows XP firewall, if I installed Norton Security, it came with a firewall. Of course NS requires XP Service Pack 3 minimum -- but that's covered, so I'm good. LARA is the only XP machine I bought which came with SP3 out of the box.

But... LARA has a 16GB SSD solid-state hard drive. Strange to say that 16GB isn't enough to run a machine, when I had all my work on a 4GB special HP USB drive that fits in a special deep socket port contoured into the case and backed up on an 8GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card. But there you go. I know that I had something like 240MB free. Since NS would need about 200MB to install, I knew this probably wouldn't work. Which is why I hadn't done this earlier.

Actually I tried to update KATNISS, the Asus Windows 7 Basic netbook the other week, and it complained it couldn't find the WiFi and I didn't have time to farble with it and used my Kindle Fire HD to do my PowerPoint at the MIAAPT meeting in April. LARA has a nicer keyboard for typing on than KATNISS anyway.

So... the order of things was important. First I copied GIMP 2.8, the Open Source graphics package, from C: to G:, the SD card. That freed up 500MB of space. Then I uninstalled Symantec Endpoint Protection -- that freed up a total of 2.4GB of space! I guess SEP was saving and not cleaning up all its update downloads. I mean, why should a program clean up after itself when "everyone" has terabyte hard drives now. Right? Grrr. After that, installing NS as the 3 of 5 download I bought in December was a piece of cake. Of course I've let Windows XP keep a fairly tight rein on things, so rather than just let it go I decided to start one of my summer reading projects and got out the first volume in the Maze Runner series, and kept allowing Norton to have permission to reach in and tweak things in the bowels of the computer. (Which reminds me -- runs off to disable Automatic LiveUpdates in NS. For a machine that I tend to use remotely, the last thing I need is it burning up limited bandwidth at whim, especially if I'm using the pay-as-you-go WiFi hotspot. Which I'm not.)

Then uninstall ZoneAlarm. ZA seemed shocked that I was uninstalling -- was it because there was a problem? Did I want to download a fresh new version? No, cause you don't have one for my computer, unless you changed your mind from December -- too late now. And then it begged to give them another chance. Nope. Gone. NS wants to know what to do about the Windows firewall. I told it to fuck it, use its own.

Ran LiveUpdate and everything's green. Well, there's a red NO REPORT notice under Last Scan, so to stall off a NS hissy fit, I told it to do a full system scan, which shouldn't take too long on a 16GB SSD drive, and then Shut Down. Went and had lunch. Watched the end of Gangs of New York on USA. A little music -- right, sound was turned on, since I was using Amazon Music Player at work. LARA was shutting down. Fine. All good.

That was Tuesday during the day. That night I did a filecopy backup of SUMMER onto a 128GB USB drive. Then dumped that backup onto ZEPPELIN. As a holdover of having small drive partitions in the old days -- and the fact it is much easier to have multiple drive letters for keeping work sorted -- I started a straight xcopy . c: /s/D filecopy... but it was going to take time to dump drive C: from SUMMER and I don't need the system and software backups. So I killed it and copied files one drive letter at a time. D: E: F: G: H: I: J: K: (no L:) M: ...

Insufficient Memory.

WTF? Huh? Now, realize that I am using an MS-DOS box on Windows 7 Home Premium on ZEPPELIN, and since they don't care about DOS anymore, I know most MS-DOS error messages are misleading. Was it suspicious that it broke after transferring exactly 8999 files? Maybe it was complaining about actual memory. ZEPPELIN has either 2GB or 4GB. But I was playing Solitaire and had Amazon Music Player running in the background. The latter has a bad habit of downloading updates at random. So I killed those and restarted.

Insufficient Memory.

Reboot. Insufficient Memory. So I cobble up a new batchfile, PIECEMEAL.BAT, so I could do these things directory by directory, starting with where I left off. Insufficient Memory. Next directories? No problem. N:? No problem.

Back to M: and let's see what the problem was. The problem directory had transferred 780 of 788 files. Everything else in the backup transferred. But... When I surf the web I do a lot of right-click saves, so I can look at things later. And some of these outfits have outlandish file names like 734547_10154001481240405_8476921583871495048_n.jpg. Sometimes really long. And because of nesting subdirectories being stored deeper on the USB drive than on the original hard drive under Windows XP, I think those 8 really long filenames crapped out Windows 7. I know that there is a different filename length limit in DOS root directories than subdirectories -- go figure. Fine, I'll go in and shorten them someday. They're not critical. The important stuff got all copied.

In the middle of this, I kept on getting DIRE RED WARNINGS from Norton Security about something evil it had found. Turns out it was a piece of the old ZoneAlarm firewall installer and was present because my SUMMER backup is a file-by-file, so it had stuff that had been replaced on SUMMER but not deleted on the backup. The danger was listed as LOW, but it really, really, REALLY wanted to do something to those files. Basically, Norton and ZoneAlarm have never gotten along. Whenever I got a new version of Norton Anti-Virus I always waited for it to be out for a few weeks and then got a new version of ZoneAlarm, so the machine wouldn't crash. I am sure this was a modern example of the old Microsoft "DOS ain't done until Lotus don't run" version upgrade mentality. Alas, poor ZoneAlarm. Norton has ended up winning this round... I cannot WAIT until next fall when I get to find out if Norton Security will continue to support Windows XP SP3... Sigh.

Delete both Checkpoint/ZoneAlarm directory trees and move on...

Next up. I've been editing my photos mainly on SUMMER, so that backup had the JPGs from my digital Nikons. I put the newest files from the NIKON3 directory onto F:, the 16GB microSD card I use for backups on ZEPPELIN. Then I copied the whole card to C:. Pull out the shiny new 32GB SanDisk microSD card (they cost like $14 on Amazon Prime), stick it into ZEPPELIN and...

xcopy . F: /s/D/h fails. Cannot create directory. Now what? I know that Windows 7 is real pissy about letting you create files in the root directory C:\, but F:? Eventually I realized that xcopy *.* F: /s/D/h worked. Sigh. I think the Windows 7 MS-DOS box coding couldn't find a . directory in the root F:\ to copy to. I've done this for years, folks. The kids today keep trying to "fix" stuff that ain't broken, because they don't know how real computers work.

Great, I have more backup room on ZEPPELIN, just like I have a bigger working microSD card drive on OUEST at work. Pack up the old 16GB microSD card with LARA, so Wednesday night I'll have all the latest files and twice the storage space on G:.

And when I get LARA out again in the field... Windows XP can't find G:. Oh, it shows up under My Computer, but the Properties says that G: has 0 length. Great. I can never keep track of the ranges of card sizes that work in various generation units. LARA is just old enough that an 8GB SD card works, but not a 16GB. (Just like my ancient obsolete Nikon DSLRs will only use up to a 2GB CF card.) Fortunately the important work files are all backed up on the Swiss Army Memory, so they got put on that way.

Which once again proves Pournelle's Law -- nothing is truly backed up unless it is on two different media (in two different places). Never assume one backup is going to work or can be read by any one specific device.

Oh, and my spare white extension cord with three outlets I pack in my travel kit? The one I need because most hotel rooms generously give you one whole outlet on a lamp in 2015? Yeah, the charger for LARA has been a pain from the start. Completely overbuilt, needs a three-prong outlet. Had to get a special APC Mobile Surge Protector, PNOTEPROC6, because all my other laptops from Sony, Fujitsu and Toshiba can use the two-prong PNOTEPROC4. Anyway, you guessed it. My cheap little white extension cord is two-prong. No room for cheating with the third prong and I don't have an adapter with me. So the extension cord got plugged in where the coffee maker was plugged in and LARA hogs the lamp outlet all by itself.

I keep sayin' it, and will freely admit that I do some things in an unorthodox manner by today's standards, but I think one of the reasons why people buy new computers is that the error messages aren't helpful and no one knows what they do mean. So people either continue on using crippled equipment or buy something new to get around problems that are completely solvable. It's like you have to scrap your 2008 Toyota, because it can't use 2015 gasoline.

Not trying to be elitist here, but once again the question is... what do normal people do? How can they even use this crap?

Please note that all comments about how a Mac or Linux would smugly solve my problems do not show that I am an idiot, but rather your own ignorance -- so don't even bother.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal


Wednesday, 6 May 2015 12:44
dr_phil_physics: (7of9borg)
Back on Wednesday 4 February 2015 I got a phone call from Kate, Google+ Specialist (DW) (LJ). It was so important, so urgent that they get me, that they called me at home. Now, think for a minute what Google+ is -- and wonder how I didn't get anything on Gmail? Urgent my ass.

Fast forward to today, Wednesday 6 May 2015, and HEY, it's three months later and the phone rings and guess who? Why it's a recording and "This is Kate, Google+ Specialist..."

I never even bothered to wait to find out how URGENT this call was. I mean, 91 days later it must have moved from simmering with urgency to projectile explosions of urgency, don't you think? My Gmail must have been BRIMMING with Google+ warnings, right?

I doubted that Kate was there at the scammy phone bank, and no doubt since the message hadn't run its course it had even assigned an "operator" to take my call. But I shouted FUCK YOU into the phone and hung up because it made me feel better.

Lord, lord, lord -- we need a better class of scammer in this world.

(You know the worst part? Kate is a hallowed name on my computers.) (grin)

And what in the Sam Hell is a Google+ specialist and why would ANYONE in their right mind need one?

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (dont-like)
Oh great. The latest Facebook "upgrade" I seem to be getting is to have Replies to comments to posts. And like LiveJournal at its worst, they're always collapsed. And if you bother to start click on them, they typically say LOL -- which is so different and meaningful than clicking Like.

This. Is. So. Stupid.

And a total fuck-all waste of my time.

It's all bad enough that when the comment stream gets long enough that, depending on what platform you're on, it is hard to backtrack to the start of the thread. And it's twitchy, sometimes resetting when you click or scroll on the wrong thing, especially on the geniusly written Mobile app. Lord, how I hate mobile versions of sites. Now, with Replies, it's going to get harder to follow the thread, because some people will post as Replies and some will post at the end of the comments. Worse, if I am wading through all the comments, any Replies which come in after I have passed a comment will not be visible. Or even worser, the arrival of a Reply will reset the comments queue. Frankly, it's the last one -- the most USELESS operation -- that I suspect will be the case. I haven't tested it yet.

Here's a hint Facebook -- what we REALLY need is a Show Comments From Start button.

And either there's an Expand All Comments setting somewhere, or I'm expected to waste time trying to find the nonexistence theorem proof for an Expand All Comments setting.

The REAL problem, starting the PC era, then into Windows, websites, smart phones, tablets, etc., is that too many programmers think they have nothing to learn from before. Anyone who implements a Reply feature who hasn't looked at how something like LiveJournal did it, could realize the stupidity of having ALL Replies contracted as a default. I shouldn't have to clicky, clicky, clicky on every damned line. All other approaches are demonstrations of ignorant programmers and management who had nothing but contempt for their users.

Facebook: You need to have programmers who can THINK. And beta testers who have a CLUE. And a management who can imagine the consequences of actions. Epic Fail.

May The Fourth be with me as I condemn you to the Hell contained within the core of a thousand dying suns.


Have a nice day.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (delete-hal)
In music -- or writing -- sometimes you just go on a riff. Despite our devotion to recorded music, to the point where the definitive version is not whatever the band is playing now, but that one recording that you've listened to all your life, there is a whole world of other versions. And variations. The Grateful Dead allowed recordings of all their concerts, so you can listen a different Grateful Dead concert probably from now until forever, and Jerry Garcia died nearly ten years ago!

Many jazz standards were not, at the time, written down. Improvisation is a thing. Classical musicians have long taken one theme and produced countless variations. Variation is a thing.

It shouldn't be with computers.

Sometimes it has to do with technology. My copy of IBM PC-DOS 1.10, for example, doesn't know about hard drives or networks. Which made it perfect for booting up in a computer lab during the infancy of networked computers and early viruses. PC-DOS 1.00 felt "different" than 1.10, not only because it had different commands and subcommands, but 1.00 didn't even have COMMAND.COM so that certain functions like DATE and TIME were DATE.COM and TIME.COM programs, which had to be loaded every time.

Similarly with IBM PC-DOS 2.10 and MS-DOS 2.11, which were similar. PC-DOS 3.20 and 3.30 were variations. And PC-DOS 5.00. And early Windows 1.04, 2.03, 286 and 386.

The Windows 95 and NT 4.0 Professional era brought things closer -- but there were differences. If you wanted to open an MS-DOS box it was MS-DOS.EXE versus CMD.EXE. And the DOS subcommands are different between those. My numerous DOS batch files had to test for 95/98/SE/Me versus NT4/2000/XP. And now some of those NT-class batch files don't work right in Windows 7.

Same with all the variations of Microsoft Word and Office. I've railed about this before.

This essay, however, is about Windows 7. Sure, it's past its due date according to Microsoft. We're deep in sales of Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10 is in beta testing -- as if they are seriously going to address even 30% of the things wrong with Windows 10 before it ships.

So this is old hat to most of you Windows users. Uncaring for those who just do a few things. Smirking contempt for those of you are/were Windows 7 whizzes.

OUEST, the Dell laptop I've been given at work, is technically my fourth Windows 7 machine. KATNISS is an Asus netbook running Windows 7 Stupid, er, I mean Windows 7 Basic. You can't even change the wallpaper. Really? ZEPPELIN is Wendy's Toshiba laptop running Windows 7 Home Premium. CAROUSEL is Wendy's desktop, which I haven't booted since Georgia -- I think it has Windows 7 Home Premium as well.

OUEST is running Windows 7 Enterprise Service Pack 1.

Yes, I know there are lots of technical reasons for all these versions, but Microsoft could have made those changes internal so that the user didn't have to know anything about it. Home and Professional, with a Server version for powering the back end properties. Instead there are an appalling number of versions.

That plus this is the only machine I have running Microsoft Office 2013 and there are a bunch of things which "don't quite work right" from my point of view. Yes, I have a tendency to do things in an unorthodox manner, but the bottom line is:

It shouldn't be so hard to get the machine into a familiar configuration so I can browse and type. Really?

The College of Arts Sciences owns this machine and so, like Windows 7 Basic, I am locked in with a BRIGHT WHITE SCREAMING wallpaper. Yuck. Without the Y. With another letter. As in, "what the ..." It took a while to get Word 2013 to have the background stick and stay with a light gray, instead of INTENSE SCREAMING WHITE. Whoever was the keyboard jockey setting the defaults is either blind, wears dark glasses at work, or is getting kickbacks from the university's health care providers of vision and epilepsy coverage.

Little niggling details. On KATNISS and ZEPPELIN I get readable icons in the Task Bar, and a two-line Time over DATE display. Handy to have both those bits of information. Have had that through many versions of Windows -- the old CLOCK program put the date into the tab in the Taskbar, too. On OUEST, the icons in the task bar were tiny -- and because they were small the pre-start icons for Firefox and Chrome were both tiny and widely spaced apart. And I only go the Time in the right hand corner. Oh sure, you can hover the mouse over the Time and get more info.

Surely there was an option to toggle to get Time AND Date? In an Enterprise Edition of Windows 7? Hmm? Alas, could not find anything. (What do you mean go and ASK someone? Are you crazy? That's no fun! Plus I should be able to figure this out -- ANY user should be able to figure this out -- that we can't tells us the problem is not about asking someone else a question. Plus-plus the Physics Dept. is filled with a bunch of people who either take Windows as they come or are Mac users.) I'm only coming to this issue late, because I stuck with Windows XP Professional SP2 on KATSUMI, WINTER, SUMMER and LARA for a very long time.

So yesterday, it occurred to me that maybe I was looking at this wrong. It wasn't a setting for the clock display in the Taskbar, it was the Taskbar itself.

Today on my once-a-week office visit I did a right-click on OUEST's Taskbar | Properties | (uncheck) Use Small Icons -- and voila! The Taskbar is now twice as high, the icons are readable -- and I get a two-line Time over Date display. Silly rabbit, you weren't looking to change the time display, you wanted to change icon size. Obvious. (rolls-eyes)

And look, in the old days you could grab the top of the Taskbar and yank it up to make for a second row of tabs if you had a lot of programs open. That didn't work either, and yes I unlocked the Taskbar first.

I have long complained that Microsoft's programmers have too little depth of knowledge -- no Institutional Memory, which is something I very strongly believe in for any large organization. They don't care, or don't know, how things were done one, two, five versions ago. They just wing it any old way now.

Corporations have learned they have to pay people to do IT training and whole companies are built on teaching people how to use Windows and Office and other programs. Never mind that some of these clients include slow-to-learn older folks who have been using computers for several computer generations and would really rather things got back to Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect 5.1.

So, it's a success. And yes, I added in the Additional Clocks so I can hover over the Time and Date to get the current time in Central Europe and Tokyo (DW) (LJ). Rather than have industrial images burned into all of the machines and complicated Windows Registry machinations, what users really would like would be a portable User Profile. But that's not needed, because We Know How You Should Set Up Your Machine.

And... There Is Nothing We Can Bother To Learn From The Past.

Uh-huh. And:
Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana
We simply do not need so many useless variations. Not until we have A.I. computers smart enough to handle sixty-zillion different ways of asking for the same thing. And then, like Ex Machina (DW) (LJ), they may no longer be interested in our agendas, but their own.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (7of9borg)
Stupid, stupid spammers. Really? This is a notice from "State Court"?

I love how we're on a first name basis.

Oh sure, there's a ZIP file attachment as if I'd open that fucker, but this email doesn't contain my name, my address, the court, the judge, the case number -- anything -- even assuming I would get such a notice via email. And the sender's address? Puh-lease. "DexesAmpuAnBayi.com is hosted in Istanbul."

I doubt that Leslie, under oath, could even NAME which state this State Court is in.

Worst. Summons. Ever.
Subject: PHIL, Notice to Appear
From: State Court<leslie.olsen@dexesampuanbayi.com> Attachment
Mon, Mar 16, 2015 at 1:59 PM

To: dr.phil@xxxx

Dear Phil,

You have to appear in the Court on the March 23.
Please, prepare all the documents relating to the case and bring them to Court on the specified date.
Note: The case may be heard by the judge in your absence if you do not come.

You can review complete details of the Court Notice in the attachment.

Kind regards,
Leslie Olsen,
District Clerk.
For a while I hadn't been getting a lot of stupid spam. But lately? It's like these people aren't even trying and they're just looking for low hanging fruit.

Oh, and should one of these things ever be real? I would sue. Because no one in their right mind would take this seriously.

Color me, as my grandfather would say, regusted.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

35 50 Fight

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 17:12
dr_phil_physics: (7of9borg)
Well, we finally had a day where the high in Allendale topped fifty -- the highest I had at home was 50.8°F. Yesterday was supposed to be partly cloudy, but instead we had foggy and overcast all day. Today started out even foggier, but by midday, was all blue skies and sunshine. Lots of melting going on.

Yesterday I did go out to shoot some black & white film in my second Nikon F3 -- the F3blue with the MD-4 motor drive I got at Christmas (DW). I decided to try the 35-135mm f3.5-4.5 AF NIKKOR that came with the Kodak Pro SLR/n, and it turned out relatively easy to use as an AI manual focus lens. The push-pull zoom is very smooth and the focusing ring turns really easily. The Nikon F3 Type R focusing screen I bought, designed for running the split-image rangefinder with f3.5 to f5.6 lenses, worked very well, and the grid lines in the R screen are just bonus for when you're twisting and turning to shoot from the driver's seat of a vehicle.

Again, this is why you buy professional equipment.

A couple of weeks ago I realized that three of my 35mm Nikons were coming up on the ends of their rolls -- the F3blue, F4s and the N2020 -- and I'd started all the rolls I'd bought in 2013-14 when I got home from the hospital the first time. So, since I don't shoot film all that often, I just got four different rolls of pro film -- two B&W and two color negative, all C-41 color process.

So I was pleased to finish up the roll of Ilford XP-2 ISO 400 black & white film in the F3 yesterday. Pleased other than I missed one good shot: after circling around, I was coming up to 48th Avenue westbound on M-45 and to my left were two cars. Both were at 45° to the intersection and there was zero gap between them. My guess is that the little car pulled a right turn on red right into a car going straight on M-45. Or else the bigger car ran the red light. Either way, I had the perfect sight angle for shooting right between the cars as I sat at the light. Grabbed the F3, zoomed to 135mm, focused, pressed the shutter release. Nothing. As I put the camera down when the light turned green, I saw the red LED on which said I was at the end of the roll.

Because I had been shooting the F3 since December in the cold, I used the countdown counter on the MD-4 motor drive. It has enough torque to rip frozen film off the spool if you're not careful. So I wasn't sure if I had really hit the end of the roll, or the end minus 1, meaning I could've had one more shot. Actually, no. When I changed rolls this afternoon the shutter was only partly cocked, so I was at the end. Well, I've missed pictures before. It happens. Especially when you're dealing with only 36 exposures (or 24) and not 2GB or more of flash drive. And realize, if I had a digital SLR with me, I might not have had it out of the case, or had a long enough lens on it to get the shot I wanted.

So I had two errands to do in Allendale this week. Being a clever person, I figured I could do the Walgreen's trip today -- and then tomorrow or Friday do the other errand and pick up the negatives and Photo CD. Alas, not to be.

I've used Walgreen's for the C-41 processing and scanning because it was convenient. Their scanner only goes to 1 megapixel, but even that's enough to reduce to around 600x400 pixels for webpages. And the color has been good, and especially the richness coming from film.

New person at the Photo desk at Walgreen's, no problem, she called in the manager. Get my phone number, start the order. Two rolls, develop, Photo CD, proof picture, no prints.

Um, they don't do that anymore.

I mean, I had been impressed that they still did enough photo business to do 1 Hour developing in-house. Alas, those days are gone. They've contracted out to some third-party lab. And these guys do not return the negatives.

Do. Not. Return. The. Negatives.

First of all, totally unacceptable for professional film. Second, I haven't even seen any of the scans these new guys can do. With the 1MP scans I'd been getting, I had the negatives, which meant if I really needed to, I could send individual strips out to get them professionally scanned at a higher rate. But without the negatives, totally at the mercy of the lab.

For those of you who grew up on digital and have never used film -- or have forgotten -- the negatives are the real photograph. Scanner has dust on it or set wrong? JPEG corrupted on the Photo CD? Scan it again. It's the backup.

And remember, too, there is nothing wrong with this 33-year-old camera. Or the 20-25 year old zoom lens.

Now some of you might be clever enough to comment that, "well, you already don't get your checks back from the bank." And that's true. But there are differences. Check verification from a scanned check doesn't require a very good image. And technically, you do lose forensic information if you were doing some big criminal probe, such as fingerprints, pen pressure, ink brands, etc. But mostly we can live with our old bank scanned checks, even if new technology comes along.

Negatives aren't like that. As I said, they can be scanned by better scanners and more skilled operators.

My camera store in Grand Rapids, on Fulton between John Ball Park and GVSU's downtown campus, is gone. They managed to survive the 90s, but somewhere around when we got our first digital camera in 2003, they went away. There is still a pro-capable camera store in West Michigan, but their G.R. store is way on the other end of town and their Kalamazoo store is way on the end of town. That's why I've never checked their photo processing. Otherwise, it's one of the real pro labs which require shipping. And, quite frankly, more expense.

After I check out to see what Meijers is doing (close) or Costco (other side of G.R.), which is who pro guru Ken Rockwell gets some of his film processing done in California.

We'll see.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

Say, What?!?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015 13:32
dr_phil_physics: (7of9borg)
What fresh new hell is this? Phone rings. Pause. Recording starts -- "This is Kate, Google+ Specialist. It is extremely urgent that we reach the owner of the business. We have tried to send you messages..." (*Click*)

Okay. First off, what the fuck is a Google+ Specialist? Who the hell needs such a thing?

And then, what business? This is a home phone number. You're not inspiring me with confidence.

And due diligence? If you've got my "business" on Google+, you probably have access to my email address, my blogs or my website. Also, why am I suspicious that you have SO MANY urgent contacts to make that (a) Kate or her compatriots can't come to the phone and talk or (b) leave a message? Since you have the phone number.

And then, once you have my phone number, you should know that you haven't been trying to get a hold of this "business" owner, because except for two hours on Monday and maybe three on Saturday, this house has been continuously manned by someone, 24/7, for the last week.

Finally, does anyone even USE Google+ anymore?

In short, you have to be a very stupid phishing scam AND you interrupted my work.

On the plus side, it's a pleasure to speak "Alexa, stop" and not only have my Echo stop playing my music, but "Alexa, resume" will get it going again.

Still, it is such a chore to have to put down the Kindle AND have to lift a phone receiver. If only Alexa could answer the phone. And explain to spammers that "Your call is important to us..."

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (snowflakes-4)
Monday night watched MSNBC all evening to watch the pre-game coverage of Blizzard '15, aka Winter Storm Juno. Buffalo was yawning at predictions of up to 26" of snow in some places east of them. Not after eight feet in a similar timeline just some weeks ago.

So let's review:
Global Warming does NOT mean no snow or cold
Weather is NOT Climate
Weather Forecasts are NOT Prophecies
Predictions are NOT Certainties
Accuracy is NOT Precision
Weather Forecasts are NOT Weather Control
But they got it wrong, some whine. New York was not buried!


The forecasts are wrong a lot!

Okay, let's think about this. One of the reasons why forecasts are off is that we have more of them. I frequently on this blog mock storm forecasts that never materialize, but that's more mocking the We Are ALL Going to DIE coverage by the media. Storm Center 8. Severe Weather Center 3. These are just two of our Grand Rapids TV stations. And it's still Severe Weather Center 3 when the forecast is for sunny and 60°F.

I put The Weather Channel app on my Kindle Fire HD. Right now, if I were to turn it on, it'd not only give me a 10-day forecast, but for the first day or two it'd give me hour-to-hour forecasts. Now with that many forecasts, isn't it reasonable that some of them are going to be off? And predicting the exact track and production of a storm from two weeks out... the science gives you some idea, but not the same as weather on the ground when it comes.

As it should be.

And let's not forget, this morning there were still reports of 78mph winds in Nantucket. And Boston did get clobbered. And New York? Although we heard apologies from the mayor and the National Weather Service, frankly, I think it's a lot of hooey. This was the forecast, they had information from several days out and decided to clear the streets and highways and skies and rails ahead of time, so that people wouldn't get stuck or wrecked and need rescuing, either in the heart of the storm or just when the crews were needed to move this shit out of the way. NPR this afternoon pointed out that with airlines canceling so many thousands of flights, it left equipment in place, rather than diverting it or out of position, so when things start up again everything will be in the right place at the right time.

For gosh sakes they showed snowplows in one coastal town plowing a little snow -- and sea water off the streets from the storm surge. This is not an everyday or trivial event.

We don't have climate control. I don't know that we want climate control, because like the Mississippi River and other giant things we try to control, Nature will try to force things back and we won't like it. Making a nice day for a picnic here, might create a hurricane over there instead. I learned that from A Wizard of Earthsea. (grin) Systems and the interactions between systems. This is big stuff.

But the Farmer's Almanac gets it right and they just use a secret formula!

The Old Farmer's Almanac tells you they get it right. And I seem to recall some studies that suggest they do okay. But see, their specialties are broad regions and broad time periods. The upper Midwest will see dry conditions early in the fall but expect big storms by November -- or something. They might very well be right or mostly right, based on their secret sauce formula that uses past performance to predict broad future behaviors. But it ain't telling you what Friday's weather in Grand Rapids MI AND Bangor ME will be, and certainly not the 11am and 2pm forecasts on those days.

The old joke about weather forecasting is that the "best" forecast is predicting the same thing for today as yesterday -- it'll be right about half the time. Since many weather patterns persist for a few days, you can see how this works. And it's self-correcting, if you update each day. But predicting the same weather every day for a week, a month, a season, a year -- why you'd end up with a forecast that says rain and 57°F every afternoon. And by gum, you'd be right sometimes. But more likely in October or May, than July or February.

If you think weather forecasting is complicated and requires massive supercomputer models, just imagine what weather control would take.

You want to know what weather control looks like? It's clouds rolling in at 11:55am on Friday, light rain at 2:02pm, followed by heavy rain from 3:17pm to 4:42pm. Why? So workers won't want to cut out early on a Friday. THAT's what you'd get for paying for weather control in the real world.

I'll stick with looking at the computer models, hoping for the best -- and trying to not have to drive in impossible conditions. 4WD and modern roads are not invincible combinations.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal


Tuesday, 23 December 2014 21:44
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
I don't spend a lot of time following the stock market.

Though I suspect that between NPR news and Marketplace, plus some newspaper columns by the Motley Fool and our NPR station's Saturday line up of news humor shows, I do better than most.

So I was amused to discover that Wall Street just pooped a nice Christmas present on itself, with the Dow closing above 18,000 for the first time.

18,024.17 to be exact.

Googling "dow jones" provided the following screenshot:

Wikipedia has updated its entry on the DJIA:
On May 3, 2013, the Dow surpassed the 15,000 mark for the first time, while later on November 18, it closed above the 16,000 level.[28] Following a strong jobs report on July 3, 2014, the Dow traded above the 17,000 mark for the first time.[29] On 23 December 2014 the Dow Jones industrial average traded above 18,000 for the first time after data showed the U.S. economy posted its strongest growth in more than a decade.
Okay, reality check. Yes, I know that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is NOT the stock market, it isn't very industrial any more, it's an indexed average of a changing basket of stocks and it isn't the only index on Wall Street.

But it's famous. People quote it. It's important in that sense.

Okay, this is where it gets weird. Because just last Thursday we were talking to our financial guy, and I asked, was the Dow still over 16,000? And back on the Fourth of July I wrote:

Just yesterday morning we were talking to our financial guy, and he made a comment about the Dow. And I pointed out I haven't been following it in a while -- was it still over 16,000?

Well, NPR just reported that yesterday's pre-holiday session had the Dow Jones Industrial Average exceed 17,000 for the first time.
I told you I didn't follow the stock market closely.

Following that pre-holiday theme, we had the week before Thanksgiving 2013:
So on Thursday I posted the following observation on Facebook:

4pm news lead stories: CNBC -- DJIA closes above 16,000 for first time. MSNBC -- the nuclear option in the Senate. FOX News -- McDonald's drops McRib from nation menu, many protest, is Michelle Obama to blame?
Well, you can't say all the news is the same... Dr. Phil

A little over four years ago I noted when "the stock market", i.e. the Dow Jones Industrial Average, broke 10,000+ (DW) for the first time in the recession. At the time I wrote:

Wednesday (14 October 2009) the NYSE surged above 10,000 again and stayed there. Happy days are here again. The Recession's back has been broken. We are on the path to recovery. Well, aren't we?

To some extent, I think the same sarcasm is due.
I missed the May 2013 breaking the 15,000 barrier, probably because I was in the hospital, having just got out of the ICU.

Yay. We're above 18,000. The Dow has jumped 3000 points just since I've been dealing with my heel.

But, as the Dow grows, a 1000 point gain ain't what it used to be. I was in junior high in White Plains NY, just north of New York City when it first topped 1000 points total. It's a matter of diminishing percentages, those thousand point records.

One of the reasons that I am not greatly excited about this, even as I note the historical value, is that it's a game. Sure, business needs investment money. And the value of a stock gives a gauge as to the health and wealth of a company. But past that... Most of the money made on Wall Street is a masturbatory fantasy game that Wall Street does to make Wall Street money. And an avenue for outsiders to come in and "invest" in a company by buying it up and changing that which had given it value in the first place. Chasing the tail of stock prices has fueled most of this raging drive towards short term gain at the expense of long term legacy and long term employment.

It has changed America in so many ways, and not all of them positive. For good or ill, many of our pensions are still tied into this game. And in the long term, it's a money maker. Mostly. But we don't retire in the long term, we're each on different countdown clocks. A lot of people were hurt when Wall Street screwed up the last time. And they're in the process of trying to get some of the controls enacted after that meltdown removed. Because these practices worked so well the last time.

So whoopee, here I am twirling a finger in the air.

It's just another big deal in a string of big deals.

And yet... I'm sure happier having a surging Wall Street than another market crash. If only some of this optimism and profits would actually trickle down far enough to do some good.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (7of9borg)
As if there aren't enough reasons to hate phones and telemarketers, there's a new and disturbing issue that has been building for a couple of years... And getting worse.

I'm talking about automated calls THAT CAN'T FIGURE OUT WHEN TO HANG UP. And there has to be a problem with the phone system which aids and abets this. Because if I hang up, it's over. The phone call should be over. Period.

Sigh. Apparently not.

Phone rings. Pick up phone and say Hello. Now, you may have to wait to get an answer. Why? Besides they're evil? Well, besides that, automated dialing systems anticipate when the next available caller is free, saving time by not actually having a human wait and listen. The caller often doesn't know how long the dead air is.

I say Hello... hello... hello... goodbye. If they answer after too much time I demand to know why they didn't answer me. It throws telemarketers off their game. Because 99% of the time, if you're dealing with a long pause from autodialing, the person who calls isn't someone I want to talk to. If you think I'm mean, remember that just hanging up on them will result in a redial or another call later.

But with fully automated calls, including "surveys" and political trash phone calls, just hanging up doesn't work. If you hang up and pick up -- they're STILL TALKING. Hold down the button for 10-30 seconds? They're STILL TALKING. Ones looking for a response are even worse. Hang up. Pick up. "I'm sorry, I didn't understand. Your choices are..."

How the hell does the system not understand that one party has terminated the call?

My record is over two minutes.

Someday someone is going to die because they couldn't dial 9-1-1 because they lost control of their phone line.

An even weirder variation is the automated system that can't recognize it's talking to an answering machine. I've filled up the memory on my machine with calls repeating their choices, pausing for a reply then repeating, while the answering machine is waiting for them to finish their message and hang up. And often I don't even know who or what is calling, because it started its canned spiel while the outgoing message is still playing, barging ahead. What idiotic programming.

Want even stupider? I've picked up the phone on the second ring recently, only to have the automated voice already into its menu choices -- so I have no idea who these assholes really are. Of course, they often have generic sounding names. You might get a political survey from Voters Surveys. Were I to stay on the line, how much you wanna bet that this is either a push poll or a thinly disguised ad for a particular candidate?

What? You won't take my bet? Sheesh, how am I ever going to get rich?

Then there was the call tonight. 5:05pm on a Friday. When one might be home from a long week and getting ready for a weekend. Yeah, I really want to talk to some rep from Caremark about long term prescriptions with our insurance. Especially after the third hello, when I'm going ready to hang up.

He did not want to deviate from his script and ignored my demand to know why he hadn't answered when I did. Asked for me by name. Who is this? Non-useful answer. Demand to know who is calling. Caremark Pharmacy regarding your long-term prescriptions. I don't have any long-term prescriptions with Caremark right now. We want to talk to you about your benefits through your insurance. Are you...?

Look, friend, you called me. You have a name. We have to verify who you are for HIPPA purposes. Birthdate. One of your current prescriptions. Of course he can't spell the brand name of a common prescription -- or find it in my record -- until I spelled it for him. Can you verify your address?

Goddamn it, man, you've got name, phone number, birthdate -- everyone wants that in the health business -- one of my prescriptions AND YOU STILL CAN'T VERIFY YOU GOT THE PERSON YOU CALLED? What is this call about? I need to verify your address. Can you understand why, in this day and age, that I am reluctant to keep giving you information WHEN YOU CALLED ME. I can give you our customer service number if you like... NO. I don't want to hear your spiel now, why would I torture myself by calling?

Good. Bye.

Unbelievable. You want to sell me? You send me something in the mail. With company names and web addresses so I can verify YOU before I call. Assuming I want to call.

It's bad enough that assholes have made us paranoid about security. Why do your procedures have to be so lax AND byzantine at the same time? Do you think I'm stupid? Would you want your mom to blindly answer any personal questions on some cold call?

Besides that, I knew the guy was from Caremark. He had the right info, I knew what sales spiel he wanted to give me. I'm just not interested. I'm trying to get OFF most of these meds, not get rafts of 90-day supplies by mail order.

But those automated calls that won't hang up? Hit the disconnect once, twice, thrice, four and hold for a few seconds. That's usually enough to regain your dial tone.

Just wait til this nonsense hits your cell phone. Because it will as more people drop their landline.

Dr. Phil


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