Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Icefields Highway

2014 07 19
Victoria, BC

Let me tell you, in a brief thousand words, why you should pack up the car and drive four thousand kilometres across Canada to look at what could be described as a bunch of old rocks.  Here is why:

The icefields Highway runs from Jasper, Alberta south through the Rocky Mountains following for most of its length the Athabasca River.  It is one of those things you should do before you die.  If you are a Canadian well...where the heck have you been?

We did not take many photographs.  There was no need.  This trip will not be lightly forgotten and the photographs are such a tepid representation of what this is all about that they do nothing to rekindle the memory.

Here are the few we took:

The Icefields

Athabasca River in the Foreground, Glaciers to the Read

The Waterfalls Well A Very Few of Them Anyway

The Wildlife - We Stopped to Watchfully (for Momma Bear) Take a Quick Look

Baby Bear Just Fooling Around on the Side of the Road
You cannot imagine what we did not photograph and we could never impart what we felt.  Rock your boat.  Disturb the tranquility and come here.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Make Your New Windows 8 Computer Bearable - Short of Loading Linux

2014 07 16
Victoria BC

Connie and I are in Victoria visiting with our daughter and lazing about in Canada's LaLaLand.  

Yesterday I purchased a new (to me) laptop.  Might not.  The computer came loaded with Windows 8.1.  AAAARGH.  Finally I had to face this plague and pestilence which has been visited on humanity by Steve Ballmer and the Microsoft demonology.

Immediately I started to "fix" the problems that, after only two program installations were driving me nuts.  Just as I had heard from others.  

There are ways to lessen the pain.  Here are two fast and easy fixes that will turn your computer back in time to the easy sensible days of Windows 7.  You still run Windows 8 but it works a lot more like Windows 7 which we all know and love.  

These tips are not original but are among the best and first "fixes" anyone new to Win 8 should consider.

First: Rid yourself of the need to "login" every time you start your computer

If you eliminate the annoying and seemingly mandatory login inflicted on you every time you reboot your computer you also do not have to create an account or register with Microsoft and you avoid having to create an email account with those NSA loving miscreants.  So doing you help, in a small way granted, thwart the data monsters from owning your thoughts.

1.  To get the stupid logon prompt from forcing you to sign up with Microsoft and logon every time you turn the laptop on do this:

Go to the "Search" Charm (really, the microsoft morons call it a "charm", I guess because they want you to think it is magic as opposed to, say, programming.  I half expect a leprechuan to jump up and prance around my screen for goodness sake.)

In the box provided type in "netplwiz" just like this:

Hit Enter.

A new menu will pop up.  Uncheck the box labelled  "users must enter a user name and password..." like this.

Click on OK.

A new window will open up and ask for your password.  (I know, I know.  This is what you want to banish but trust me this is the very last time you will have to do this).  Type your old existing password into the boxes in the window both times (insult to injury but Steve Balmar does not give up without drawing blood) like this:

Click on OK again and keep doing that until all the windows close.  

Congratulations.  You have now eliminated one of the most annoying interferences with your daily life.  And now to slay the next.

Second: Go Back to the Old Windows 7 Start Screen and Start Menu

It took but a day for me to realize that I was never going to get along with Win 8 and its "magic" approach to an operating system.  Magic and spells and charms belong in church with the rest of the voodoo hokem.  

Some bright and generous programmers have provided a program for Windows Operating System called Classic Shell.  The program is free and can be found here:

Download it, double click on the .exe file and wait a while.  It may seem like a long while.  Then, after a minute or two, move your cursor to the lower left corner of your screen and click the window pane there.  You will be given a choice of how you want your Windows 8 to be serviced up.  

Choose Classic Startup.  

That is it.  

With both fixes installed you can reboot your computer and it will automatically start with the windows desktop, just like win 7 - AND THERE WILL BE A CLASSIC START MENU.

Just like the old days when Windows still worked.

More Microsoft Perfidy - UEFI and Booting Live USBs

Actually by the time I had found and loaded the fixes I was several hours into my Win 8 ownership.  It was nonsense I sorted out.  This was when I decided to try a version of Linux I really like called "Bodhi".  It used to be easy to load Bodhi on a USB stick and boot your computer from the USB.  This allowed you to test the Linux software without having to partition your hard drive and install the new OS as a second boot option.  

Oh, but Microsoft has been losing a lot of customers to Linux.  Too many I guess because with Win 8 comes a new boot system that makes booting from a live USB just about impossible.  Sadly for poor Steve Balmar all this did was make me desire even more a complete wipe of the hard drive and elimination of frustrating impossible Windows 8, a program written by the company that lead the charge to selling out their customers to the NSA.

This blog was posted via Linux from my newly wiped laptop.  Not too shabby, eh?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Starting Over

10 07 2014
London, ON

The Blog is changing and will be unavailable for a bit. Actually it may be out of action for a few weeks.  We are concentrating on our daughter's wedding in London, Ontario and some other great family events. 

We intend, Insha'Allah, to sail a chunk of Newfoundland in the summer of 2015, and the blog will be up and running long before this.  If you are interested please contact us and we can do a flotilla.  Believe us when we tell you the St. Lawrence River is unparalled sailing.  The Gaspesie is home to fantastic sailing.

Connie spends her time wrestling some first rate recipes into "doable on a boat" form.  Here's hoping her efforts pay out.  So far even the failures have been spectacular in a good way.

Bob has discovered the Arduino and the Raspberry PI and has disappeared into his "Library" where he is prototyping a host of new devices to aid in running or monitoring the boat. At least that is how he explains the cloud of burning phenol board hovering around the door. 

Like the explosion of new life that presaged the human race Bob expects most of his creations to fall afoul of some subsection or other of Darwin's immutable law but if even one survives ...   (not coming from Texas we accept evolution as a valid theory of how some things are explained.  We figure that God might well have chosen the evolution system to achieve his goals.  Assuming God exists of course.  Which he doesn't.  But let's not confuse the fundamentalists.  They carry guns.)  

If anyone has questions on the old blog or wants information on any topic previously published please contact us, Bob and Connie at  We love to chat.