Monday, September 18, 2017

The wisdom of the old?

Lying around, pondering the problems of the world, I realized that at my age I don't really give a damn anymore.

If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal -- but not now that he uses a bike.

A whale swims all day, only eats fish, and drinks water, but is still fat.

A rabbit runs, and hops, and only lives 15 years, while a tortoise doesn't run and does mostly nothing, yet it lives for 150 years. Yet they tell us to exercise? I don't think so!
from young to old
Now that I'm older here's what I've discovered:

1. I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.
2. My wild oats are mostly enjoyed with prunes and all-bran.
3. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.
4. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.
5. If all is not lost, then where the heck is it?
6. It was a whole lot easier to get older, than it was to get wiser.
7. Some days, you're the top dog, some days you're the hydrant.
8. I wish the buck really did stop here; I sure could use a few of them.
9. Kids in the back seat cause accidents.
10. Accidents in the back seat cause kids.
11. It is hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere.
12. The world only beats a path to your door when you're in the bathroom.
13. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he'd have put them on my knees.
14. When I'm finally holding all the right cards, everyone wants to play chess.
15. It is not hard to meet expenses . . . They're everywhere.
16. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth..
17. These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter . . . I go somewhere to get something, and then wonder what I'm "here after".
18. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.
19. It is a lot better to be seen than viewed.
20. Have I sent this message to you before...or did I get it from you ?
Old man sign

Windows system restore point files can consume HUGE amounts of disk space

Beware, this might well happen to you on a Windows system!

Refer to the following Microsoft Community user query:
Windows 7: System Volume Information has many large files ...


Today I just noticed on my Windows 10 Pro system that my 250 GB Samsung SSD was unexpectedly running out of space. I assiduously do a disk cleanup every few months, but today I discovered only about 12 GB was left when I would normally expect around 70 GB of free space.

A little analysis showed a similar situation to the screenshot above, there were more than 80 GB of system restore files.

I suspect that the System Restore settings might have been changed during a recent Windows update. I have no proof of this, but I certainly didn't myself make any change to the settings.

All that I had to do to make lots more space available was:

  1. Open the System Protection tab of Disk Cleanup and click the System Restore button.
  2. Move the Max Usage slider slider across to the left as far as I felt satisfied with. (I chose 30 GB, for no special reason, just an estimate that this would be sufficient to store the latest four or five restore point files.)
  3. Click the Apply button.


Note that I did not have to reboot Windows 10 or do anything else. The space was immediately freed up, and now there’s 90 GB available on the C: drive.

Monday, September 04, 2017

A shocking example (of lightning during a dry thunderstorm)


Dry thunderstorm lightning causes the majority of forest fires.

It seems this video was from a fixed camera, as a human operator may not have survived this strike. Watch (at 7 seconds, of 56) how the lightning first strikes the river bank, then into the river and downstream with much turbulence.

Glad I wasn't swimming or fishing or boating there!

(Sorry, I’m not clear about the attribution of this video.)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Optus Fetch TV set top box flagged by Bitdefender as having two HIGH-RISK vulnerabilities

Today I discovered the free Bitdefender Home Scanner security product, installed it and ran a security scan for my home network.

My impression is that everybody should use this very nice free security monitor from Bitdefender. You’d be silly/careless not to!

The scanner reported the device named "HyBroad Vision (Hong Kong) Technology Co Ltd" has two high-risk vulnerabilities:

  • Denial of Service (DoS) .... HIGH
  • Arbitrary code execution .... HIGH

See screenshots (1) and (2) below:




I was puzzled by the device reported as  “HyBroad Vision (Hong Kong) Technology Co Ltd” and wondered what it could be.

A quick Web search informed me that this network device in fact it is the Optus Fetch TV set top box -- which is installed with no special configuration settings -- all the Optus default. (For overseas readers of this blog, Optus is one the main telcos in Australia.)

Does anybody know how these two high-risk vulnerabilities can be eliminated for this device?

What Fetch TV STB configuration options are there to accomplish this?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Microsoft Expression Web–Version 4.0.1460.0 free (sunset edition)

I rather like the easy-to-use and familiar user interface of Microsoft’s various editing apps. Microsoft Word. for example, the most widely used document editor, the one that all others have to measure up to (and some do that very well).

Microsoft Visual Studio is another favorite of mine, right up to and including the latest VS2017 edition,  most certainly a top-class IDE.

Then creating and submitting blog posts there was until recently the free Microsoft Windows Live Writer (WLW), where you create your posts via an offline editor rather similar to a simplified version of Word. I grew to love WLW as an easy and efficient tool for blogging. It has interfaces with WordPress, Blogger and other blogging services, but was deprecated by Microsoft in 2015 or 2016. Luckily, out of its ashes appeared an open-source version called  as Open Live Writer, also free and with all the functionality of WLW.

But what about an offline editor for creating and maintaining web pages. There are quite a few free and commercial products available, and I have a number of them installed. They each have their pros and cons, and I pick the one that’s best for a particular job.

The web page editor that I use most is Microsoft Expression Web, a commercial (paid-for) product. I started in the late 1990s with Expression Web 2, upgraded to version 3, and then to the final version Expression Web 4.

I find Expression Web that it’s very easy to use, again with a familiar interface to that of Word, with a particularly good WYSIWYG capability that suits my need for creating and maintaining my website.


Admittedly my site is fairly vanilla, without many of the advanced “bells and whistles” that are all the vogue on many websites. (If I want any advanced or more recent features I use one of my other web editors to code these, then usually switch back to Expression Web to continue with simpler HTML and CSS coding.)

Microsoft deprecated Expression Web (and its companion Expression Design) in December 2012 and made them available as free products. Of course they will no longer be updated, but they are still quite decent, powerful web creation tools.

Give it a fling, you’ve nothing to lose!

You can download Expression Web 4 (free version) from the following Microsoft location:
       Expression Web version 4.0.1460.0

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Interactive health visualizations

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has some fascinating interactive data visualizations on its website.

You can select a chart type (such as USA health map, tobacco visualization, Life Expectancy & Probability of Death) and adjust a wide range of parameters -- such as country, age or gender – and see a visualization for that group of selection criteria.

For example, below is a life expectancy chart for both sexes combined, where those countries shown in lighter colors (red, orange, yellow) have the lowest life expectancies:



Here’s another one, showing life expectancies in the USA since 1981:

I commend that you check out the visualizations.

Friday, April 21, 2017

TIP - How to navigate quickly through Scientific American archives

For subscribers to Scientific American, see How to navigate quickly through Scientific American archives or read below.Scientific American transition in 1921 from weekly to monthly issues.

Subscribers to Scientific American are given access to every issue, in PDF format, right back to the magazine's launch in 1845. Wow!

It can be quite a laborious, hit and miss process to navigate back through all those issues, particularly for the earlier years (prior to November 1921) where there are about fifty issues per year.

Originally there was an issue per week, then in November 1921 came a transition to an issue per month.

The website provides only a very primitive way to navigate through those hundreds and hundreds of archived issues.

Simplistic navigation provided for Scientici American archives.As shown on the left, you can select the nearest fifty years by clicking on a radio button drop-down list, and that's the closest you can get to a desired issue.

As a consequence of this simplistic navigation design, I found myself doing lots and lots of laboriously  slow paging in order to arrive at any given issue.

After a while I cottoned on to a much quicker way to go any particular year's list of issues.

At the end of each page's URL is the four-digit value of the archived year currently being viewed, such as:

UPDATE (10 September 2017)
They seem to have changed things. Now the URL is simpler, so to jump to 1881 you use:

So there you are. Merely by altering this value to some other year you can go directly to that year's archives (the December issues are displayed first):

Scientific American archives URL wit year highlighted

Quick Navigation within a Particular Year

When you open an archive page for a particular year will find that the Scientific American issues for that year are displayed in descending chronological sequence. There are five pages per year, with twelve issues per page (except for January).

The first page displayed shows the issues for December and November, beginning with the final issue for the year (the closing week of December). There are up to four issues per row, fewer when the browser window is made narrower.


You can save time and effort and jump to a given month by replacing the page= paramter in the URL (green balloon) as indicated in the above screenshot.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Firefox browser is stuck since 2006 at file version – Why so?

I have saved quite a range of Firefox installers, and there’s something that puzzles me about them

Let’s start with Firefox release 1.0.3 which is indicated to be File Version as follows:


My understanding of “file version” is that the developer is supposed to register each file with a unique number that truly represents the release number, as happens with RoboForm 8.3.3 (its latest version at the time of writing):


With many products, the external  “release” number and the internal “file version” number are kept in sync like this.

When Firefox release 2.0 was made available in December 2006, it was changed to File Version as follows:


Most strangely, ever since then and up to the current  Firefox release 53.0 (April 2017) the internal “file version” has remained at which irks me. It seems rather sloppy, but I might be missing something.

Can anybody advise me why Mozilla hasn’t kept the release number and file version number in sync since 2006?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Combo BBQ and Drinks Cooler

            BBQ and Drinks Cooler

When you are finished, just turn the handle and it extinguishes the fire.

Not sure who came up with this nifty idea,
but don't you wish that you were this clever?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

TIP – Add Safe Mode to the Boot Menu of Windows 10 (and 8)

Recently I had a PBSOD (pale blue screen of death) crash with one of my Windows 10 systems, and kept getting crashes within minutes every time after rebooting the system.

Somewhat annoyingly, starting with Windows 8 Microsoft removed the old boot menu options that we were used to with Windows 7 and previous versions. Run a search like this to see the complaints about this from the Windows user community.

It’s not a bad idea to modify the Windows boot settings in order to get back the capabilities of the old boot-time settings:


As good an explanation for doing so, in easy steps, can be found in this article at How-To Geek and I recommend that you do it on your systems too, in advance of being caught out.

For reasons best known to Microsoft, you cannot make this happen with Windows 10 Home edition. They really do make some weird decisions.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Informed consent, software-wise -- or software-dumb?

This is an update to a post originally published way back on 11 January 2010. Unfortunately, the industry of creating stupid software still is thriving in 2017.

You should learn something new each and every day of your life, so I keep reminding my young grandsons. It’s a maxim that I still follow myself, in a desperate bid to keep my brain alert and defer that day when my grey matter finally degenerates into a useless pile of wobbly jelly.
As an example, this morning for the first time I came across the legal term “informed consent” which is explained thus at Wikipedia:

“An informed consent can be said to have been given based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and future consequences of an action. In order to give informed consent, the individual concerned must have adequate reasoning faculties and be in possession of all relevant facts at the time consent is given.”
I was led to this learning opportunity by David Platt’s MSDN Magazine Blog post The Myth of Informed Consent (go read it yourself before continuing here). He finishes with:
“We developers are the experts, and users depend on us. We cannot abdicate our responsibility by asking for guidance from someone who cannot possibly know. Informed consent in computing is a myth, and companies that claim it as an excuse for their malpractice are weasels. Stop it. Now.”

“Low Risk”? Who knows?

David was commenting on the a dialog box generated by Norton Internet Security which leaves the hapless computer user to work out and decide on the significance of the meaning of an obscure message. Actually, I’d go even further and call the message is obscurantist (rather than just obscure), leaving the user most likely to have to guess what to do, rather than coming to a reasoned conclusion.
Software tends to be rather difficult to design, develop and test, and in my experience the people involved typically focus on the the technical architecture/design/coding accuracy rather than the textual precision and accuracy.

Usability testers should always be involved, and if worth their salt they should pick up on wordings and meanings that are obscure, incomplete, misleading, indeterminate, and so on. I wonder how much software gets released without any significant degree of usability testing.

Sensible and accurate wordsmithing takes time and effort, hence adds cost (which is doubtless the reason why it’s often not done). Further, not all people are good at writing clearly and concisely – not to mention spelling properly, as well as using accurate terms and terminology.

As an aside, my pet peeve at the moment is the schoolboy howler error of referring to a single building as a “premise” when discussing broadband (such as Australia’s National Broadband Network), using terms such as cabling is laid right up to the premise and  in-premise terminating equipment. However it wasn’t my intention here to focus on poor writing, spelling mistakes, bad grammar, and the like, bad practice as they are.

David Platt’s security warning dialog box is just one example of the sort of rubbish that software designers and developers keep forcing upon us.

You’ve surely got your own examples.

Below, without further commentary, are a few others: inane, puzzling and meaningless gibberish from software vendors big and small,  that I’ve collected over the years …

Mr. Software Vendor, I do happen to run more than one application at a time,
not just the one YOU developed, whichever it is of all that are currently active!
And I have multiple hard drives, so which one?

At least I know that the problem’s occurring with Eudora,
but that’s about all I know.

Thanks for telling me, so what?

I knew this was associated with Acronis True Image. but what should I reply?
[It took some time to discover which of the drives was “hard disk 7’ and
I wonder why they don’t make it easy by quoting the drive letter instead]

image  image
You don’t say!

  image and  image

I do really like Lotus Notes, but for crying out loud.

Oh no, Techsmith's Snagit suffers from such inanity too.

The above messages are about as useful as the following unique device:


Click “Yes” or “No” .. or so you say:
Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing?


One of many applications has sent me a message:


Here’s yet another one, just encountered:

Enough, enough! We need some relief.
The above are laughable (or perhaps “cryable”),
but the following is laughworthy:

"For gorsake, stop laughing, this is serious."
Stan Cross (in Smith’s Weekly, 1933, Australia).

One of my favorite illustrations of all time!