WHACKADOODLE VIRUS

I have some solid armor on this computer. Not only the version of anti-virus that comes with Windows 10 (which I had been using for years before it became part of the system), but also Malwarebytes to pick up any slackers. Between the two, I haven’t gotten a virus in a long time.

Today, I popped over to YouTube and  voilà! One virus ahoy. “IF YOU TRY TO REMOVE THIS, YOUR HARD DRIVE WILL FA … ” except it never got through “fail” because it got whacked by both virus blockers in one heavy hit and down it went. Sadly, it left Chrome messy. Time to delete it. Chrome doesn’t deal well with being “a little bit broken,” so unless you are planning to deal with its “little bit of brokenness,” you have to take it down and then, put it back.

This isn’t a big deal — usually — because while it takes a few minutes, Google gets itself back in business fast. But, I had to dump not only Google, but all its “pieces.” I would have to depend on Google to restore itself. Once I was sure I’d gotten rid of the viral page, I deleted it the rest of Chrome. And all the little pieces of it, what they call “the backup” stuff. I took it all the way down and suddenly, there was a screen.


Why did you delete Chrome? — Me: Virus 

Do you want it back again? — Me: Yes, please.

Click here. — Me: I clicked there.


Thinking about two. Don't ask why. Just ... two.

Thinking about two. Don’t ask why. Just … two.

No problem if I had the slightest memory of the password I used. I wrote it down because who doesn’t write down their passwords? But I wrote it in my gmail account. Which was the thing I couldn’t get to because …

This is the moment when you usually threw your hands in the air and scream “I GIVE UP!”

No more. Now, before I had time to find a paper and pencil, the phone was ringing. And there I am, trying to wrench the top off my pen so I can write down the number. Phew. Got it!

I put in the numbers and in went Gmail and Google. After a while, as I passed some time checking the new settings (Google is always new), everything came back.  The whole kit and caboodle. Though I’m pretty sure I’ll have to replace every single password for all the sites I use, but it was time to dump them anyway. Remind me I said that.

There was a thing on TV. I think it was on the Sunday NBC shows about passwords and how no matter what the people in the biz say, passwords are personal and often, there’s a whole story in each password.

Is that true? Are all of our passwords in some way part of our personal story? I think my early versions of passwords were likely stories. But now? Time has required I include capitals and numbers and at least one expletive, so my passwords are memories of times from a long time ago — with expletives and numbers jammed impossibly between.

Sort of almost memories.

ALIENWARE 15 R3 — THE GOOD AND THE HUH?

I always have very mixed feelings when I realize I’m going to have to buy a new primary computer. I love technology and I love computers. I love gadgets and widgets and cameras and lenses and software. From the first day I put my fingers on a computer keyboard, I knew I’d found my place in the new order. Computers felt like “home” from the first day.

New computer

However, getting a new primary computer that will be your everything computer is a big deal.

I’m not talking about a tablet. Or a Kindle. Or an old computer you want to keep because it contains software you can’t buy anymore and which you like better than “new improved” versions.

No, in this case, I’m talking about the one item of equipment that you use all the time for years on end. It’s the constant use computer. The machine on which you blog. Take care of your daily business. Banking, shopping, email, photography. It’s where you process pictures. Where you have software and filters. It’s where you write. Design books. It is important.

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Getting a new computer up to speed, configured the way you want it has always been a process that takes anywhere from a few hours to several months of tweaking. In this case, it also involved getting used to a new operating system — Windows 10 Pro up from Windows 7 Pro.

PERFECTLY FROM THE DAY I TOOK IT OUT OF THE BOX

This computer worked absolutely perfectly from the day I got it. There was no start-up time, except the time it took me to figure out where the new stuff was on this computer that was somewhere else on my earlier computers. If I didn’t feel I need to know what’s going on inside, I need not have bothered to find out anything. I’m still finding out things, though more now than before since that BIOS download the other day, but that’s a different issue.

THINGS THEY COULD DO BETTER — AND PROBABLY WILL

The C-port “Thunderbolt” replacements for the USB drives are not very sturdy. They work, but they are fragile. I’m sure they will be improved with time, but as of today’s writing, they should have included more USB ports. I have added hubs, but the lack of a CD drive for a camera card is a real pain in my butt. They should put it back.

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It won’t help me much. However, for future computers … put the CD drive back. Add at least two or three more USB ports. There are a lot of items that only work properly in a USB port. Eventually, maybe everything will love these new ports, but they don’t love them today. My external hard drives and my DVD/CD drive won’t work in the C port … and of course, I also need something for the CD flash card too. In theory, you can use a hub, then put stuff them through the C port, but that’s really stupid. Too many hubs, too much stuff. I’m sure I am not the only one complaining about this.

A FEW QUESTIONS ANSWERED BEFORE YOU ASK THEM

Why did I stay with Windows rather than getting a Mac? Because I actually prefer Windows. It’s a structured, work-oriented system. Its design and the way I think work well together. I have owned Macs and used them, but in the end, I’m much more comfortable on Windows. I’m task oriented. The Mac with its “do your own thing” unstructured style doesn’t mesh well with my style. Of course, there’s also the software I own that runs on Windows, but won’t run on a Mac.

I am not a hardware kind of gal. You won’t find me rewiring anything or prying open the case to get at the innards. Software? No problem.

Hardware? Call the guy with the toolkit. The second-hand market it good for people who aren’t afraid of getting down and dirty with the guts of the hardware, but I’m not one of them … so new was the way to go for me. Windows PC. High end. New.

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My previous Alienware laptop was very satisfactory, but technology has been whipping along at light speed for the past few years. The computer was more than two operating systems behind. I was not interested in overlaying a new operating system on the old one. I tried that and failed. Badly. It was also getting difficult to run new software on the older system. It ran, but not run well. Frustrating and annoying, but the development world is not interested in my opinion.

OTHER QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Why Windows 10 Pro you ask? Over the decades, I’ve found the “professional” versions of Microsoft operating systems are more stable and much less buggy than the “home” version of the same OS.

Every version of Windows has essentially the same stuff in it, but the menus change. The most alarming difference for more was the complete removal of the “Restore” and “system configuration” menus which has been part of Windows since the beginning. The pieces are now parceled out to other menus (Systems and Task Manager).

HOW DOES IT DO?

It boots up in fewer than 10 seconds. I don’t know how many different windows I could open, but whatever it is, I haven’t found it yet.

THE GOOD AND THE WHAT-THE-HELL?

I would have gone all the way and said this is the best computer I’ve ever had. Basically, it still is, but that download the other day from Microsoft was evil. I’m still recovering from it. To be fair, things seem to be working more or less normally — again.

It’s a great computer.

The problem is, you never know what kind of rat poison you’re going to get in downloads from home base. Apple has done it, Windows has done it more. They really need to step back and ponder users and what we need.


THE PARTS AND PIECES:

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  • 16GB DDR4 at 2133MHz (2x8GB)
  • English Backlit Keyboard, powered by AlienFX
  • NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5
  • N1435 & N1535 Wireless Driver
  • 256GB PCIe SSD (Boot) + 1TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s (Storage)
  • Windows 10 Pro (64bit) English
  • Killer 1435 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1
  • Intel(R)Core(TM) i5-6300HQ (Quad-Core, 6MB Cache, up to 3.2GHz w/Turbo Boost, Base frequency 2.3GHz)
  • 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Anti-Glare 300-nits Display
  • Lithium Ion (68 Wh) Battery

IF YOU DO A LOT OF STUFF ON THE COMPUTER, A GOOD ONE IS WORTH THE MONEY

The computer I had before this one is now Garry’s computer. Aside from not handling newer applications well, it’s a fine computer and will last a very long time, especially with Garry using it. Even if it needs a hard drive or something else, it’s more than worth repairing. You can’t say that about a lot of the cheap, cheesy computers.

They are cheap, but they aren’t good. And they won’t stand up to repair.

RICH AND JUICY, YUM

Yesterday night,  I had no photographic software. But as I lay abed pondering the irrationality of life, technology, and all that … I realized I own Photoshop CS5. Not only do I own it, but without getting complicated, I really own it. Hugely. Maybe even bigly.

Bonnie, always number one

Bonnie, always number one

There wasn’t a whole lot of difference between PS5 and PS6. Nothing so big you’d simply need to own it. These days, I use more filters than the stuff in Photoshop. I use its straightener and change the size of things. I use the rotator and the basic size. I also use the text and sometimes, the various layers when I want to do something — different.

For most pictures, I use Photoshop so I can work with filters.

I’m also very fond of Bridge. It doesn’t get crazy dumping all 59,749 photographs into it. It just does it. I have them backed up. There are another 40,000 (give or take) that aren’t even on the drive because I thought probably, I could live without them.

Gibbs, my go-to subject

Gibbs, my go-to subject

The final issue, since yesterday’s blow out left me with nothing that will work in either of the C (Thunderbolt) ports, is whether the pictures would show up. They showed up. Ready to go, boss.

Considering the horror of yesterday, this was a simple, elegant sit down. Me, with my software gathered about me on the sofa. I made it happen. I did it.

DAILY PROMPT | JUICY AND RICH

ONE THING, ANOTHER THING, AND THEN … ONE MORE THING

Garry’s computer went down, but that was okay because he could use my other computer. The Kindle went down, but that turned out okay because Audible fixed it and then Amazon fixed it more. But when my computer went down this afternoon, that was NOT okay. Not even a little bit okay.

First, there was a download. Turned out to be a BIOS download, but they didn’t mention this little detail to me and in any case, it didn’t matter because it blew out all my recovery backups. I have my photographs on hard drives, but the rest of my world is online.

It blew out Photoshop — the one from 2008 which had been running fine, thank you.

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It also blew out my sound, but after a bit of jiggling, I got that back. It blew out both of my C-port adaptors. They were cheap and I can cope with stuff that cost me ten bucks. Brand new. But when she told me the jpgs weren’t working and I had to call the company that owns my cameras, I got a little crazy. I was trying really, really hard to be normal, you know? I was trying to not breathe hard, not scream in panic or anything. I was doing okay, but that was it for me.

I said “It’s a FREAKING JPEG. It’s not a fancy schmantzy super special thing that comes with my fancy camera. It’s a JPEG. A lousy little JPEG.”

We eventually worked our way around to the point where she admitted there had been a lot of calls today, all pretty much like mine with people screaming “WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY COMPUTER?”

So — everything is working. Except I don’t have software. For pictures. I do, however, have Photoshop on Garry’s computer and the guy from the computer shop is fixing HIS computer. To be fair, Alien is pretty sure they can get me a version of Photoshop, too. It’ll just take a couple of days.

I’m just saying … it was one thing. Then, there was another thing. THEN, there was THIS thing. I’m totally freaking nuts. Except the computer is working … minus the lack of software. Maybe we’ll get that fixed too. Oy.

TACHYON WAVES, WARP DRIVES, AND A TOASTER OVEN

Garry and I binge watched the entire “Star Trek: Next Generation.” On Netflix. We had missed the show’s initial run. 1987 through 1994 were busy years full of work, moving houses, digging into careers. Getting married. Moving again. Watching TV wasn’t a priority back then.

BBC America showed the series last year, but not in order. When Netflix gave us the opportunity to catch up, we did, viewing two, three, four episodes each night.

star trek next gen cast

There’s a lot of tech talk on the Enterprise. No problem. Pass the warp drive. I’ll have a side of tachyon particles. I understand their science as well as I understand anything. Which is to say, not at all. I understand the engines on the Enterprise as well as I understand my toaster oven.

Tachyon energy is crucial to all kinds of weaponry and fuel. They are part of what powers the warp engines on the Enterprise. The warp engines are what lets the Enterprise be the Enterprise, travel at speeds faster than light … fast enough to explore the universe. Slither through wormholes. Travel through time.

For your information, a tachyon particle moves faster than light. The complementary particle types are luxon (particles which move at the speed of light) and bradyon (particles which move slower than light). If you live in the Star Trek universe, tachyon particles are as common as dirt. Or electricity.

enterprise next gen

Effectively, life and everything in it is a giant mystery to me, yet I feel as if I understand it. When they talk about it, I nod because I get it. I’ve been listening to this mumbo jumbo for so many years, it has achieved a pseudo-reality. Because when I look closely, there’s nothing there. I understand the technology of the 24th century exactly as well (and as much) as I understand the technology of the 21st.

How many of you know how the stuff you use works? Some of you do, but most of us know how to use our devices and gadgets, but have no idea why or how it works. I know how software is designed, how code is written and compiled. I used to know a little coding. In the end, though, I have no idea why code does anything. Why, when you compile a program, does it work? It’s just text. Why does it do what it does?

Why does anything work? Tachyon particles, warp drives, internal combustion engines, electricity, cell phones, WiFi. It’s all the same.

Magic.

And now, back to the Enterprise, already in progress.

MEN AND THEIR KITCHEN GADGETS – ELLIN CURLEY

My adult son has always been cooking averse. Kitchen challenged. He would grill when weather permitted, but otherwise he ate food that came in packages. His culinary interest ranged from heating something in the microwave to heating something in the oven. When he discovered that frozen vegetables come in microwaveable steamer bags, his stove top became obsolete.

Then he discovered modern kitchen technology. He is now the proud owner of a sous vide machine and vacuum sealer (explanation coming), an air fryer (self-explanatory) and a pressure cooker (see “Top Chef” and other Food Network shows). Each contraption comes with its own recipes, manuals and propaganda.

Every day now I hear about the wonders of these amazing machines. I also hear about the equally amazing culinary wonders they create. Each gadget has its own strengths and weaknesses and you have to learn what works well in each one.

For example, the sous vide machine is a device that cooks vacuum sealed food in a water bath. You can bring food to precisely controlled temperatures and the water is circulated to insure consistent temperatures throughout. The benefit of this technique is that the food is very slowly steamed, which seals in the moisture and enhances the flavors.

sous-vide-machineMeat comes out particularly well this way, cooked in marinades, sauces or just plain. In conventional ovens and grills, meat shrinks quite a bit in the cooking process because it loses liquid, and therefore flavor. This doesn’t happen with the sous vide (or with the pressure cooker). Oddly enough, the sous vide also excels at making puddings (including crème brûlée) and cakes (including cheesecakes).

My son’s next big boy toy, the pressure cooker, cooks food in liquid, under pressure, in a sealed container. This results in very rapid cooking, similar to braising. The pot roast that would take four hours on the stove or in an oven, would take just one hour in the pressure cooker. The process also locks in flavor and moisture, as does the sous vide. The pressure cooker also bakes and makes other unexpected dishes. My son said that the brownies he made in it were moist and fudgey and awesome!

The air fryer sounds amazing to me. It cooks by circulating hot air around the food. So you can use a small amount of oil to create wonderfully crispy foods like fries and chips. Apparently you use 80% less fat and get 95% of the flavor and crispness of regular frying. You can bake in this device as well.

air-fryer

If all this isn’t techie enough for you, these gadgets can also be connected to your iPhone or iPad. You can set temperatures and times on your phone and the phone will tell you when your food is done. This level of technology excites my son and terrifies me.

Anyway, now my son calls me several times a day to discuss the night’s meal. First I hear about the menu and techniques planned for dinner. Later I get a progress report or a call for help. Finally I get the review of the finished meal. We talk about any shortcomings or failures and try to figure out how to make it turn out better the next time. Sometimes this involves referencing a cookbook or an appliance manual.

I am thrilled that my son has discovered the joy of cooking. He has branched out and is now looking at cookbooks and recipes online. He has actually used the stove. He’s learning the proper way to sear meat and sauté onions. He’s thrilled that he’s eating healthy (he’s on a diet). He’s even more thrilled that he’s saving money. He rarely eats out when he used to go out several times a week. He’s also saving money because buying raw ingredients is cheaper than buying prepared foods. He can’t believe how much money he used to waste!

I’m happy to be able to talk food and cooking with my son. I love cooking and have been a foodie since before that was an actual word. But it was not a subject I could share with my son. Now we share recipes

So, if you want to share your love of cooking with your non-cooking son, son-in-law or husband, go out and get them a cool kitchen appliance and sit back and enjoy the show.

SHARING MY WORLD – NEW YEAR’S DAY 2017

Share Your World – 2016 Week 52


What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?

Vanilla. I love the taste and smell of vanilla. Especially fresh vanilla. We also drink vanilla coffee in the morning.

If you were to treat yourself to the “finer things” what would you treat yourself to? 

I’d love to have some stuff done to upgrade the house and I would get someone in once a month to clean. But otherwise? Life is good. Of course, I’m always up for a new camera and lenses.

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Have you ever been drunk?

Is there anyone who has never been drunk? I am the world’s cheapest drunk. Half a glass of wine will put me under the table and a whole drink with real booze? Call 911 — you’ll need a gurney.

I have never been a big drinker. If I had been a social drinker, watching the havoc alcohol has wreaked among people I love would certainly have ended that. Most of the heavy drinkers in my world are either already dead — with booze being one of the reasons why they are no longer with us — or they have rehabbed, dried out, and gone on the wagon.

drinks table dinner

Alcoholics Anonymous is a wonderful organization. It continues to quietly save lives without government support or big fundraising campaigns. If someone you know is drunk more than they are sober, try to get them help before they die of alcohol-related illness.

Complete this sentence: My favorite supposedly guilty pleasure is… 

Expensive equipment. I love computers and cameras. My taste exceeds my budget many times over. My best defense has always been to watch for sales … and buy good, used camera equipment. I may be a generation behind, but camera technology doesn’t change dramatically from model year to model year.

They are always coming out with some sexy new camera that I’d love to wrap my paws around, but I can’t do that. So I wait and I watch the market and when I see a bargain, I grab it.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I’m hankering for the next generation of the Olympus OM-D … or the new Olympus Pen F. When prices drop, I’ll be waiting.

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

I’m grateful the holidays are ending along with what has been a politically traumatic year. It hasn’t been an entirely bad year, otherwise. It started out in Arizona — which was great — and I managed to get through the entire year without major surgery, serious illness, or a single hospital incarceration. Getting older is a bummer, but the alternative is even less attractive.

I am hoping that 2017 will be better than I expect. I’m very unhappy with the way the world is going, so my fondest hope is that it won’t be as bad as I fear. With my expectations set very low, it would be difficult to disappointment me.

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