Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Fascinated by Fireworks

Wondering why politicians often seem so eager to find excuses for war, it occurred to me that a state of military readiness requires stocks of various explosives which are likely to have only a limited shelf life. It must seem wasteful just to throw them away when they pass their 'use by' date. We could enjoy the flashes and bangs produced by dropping them on someone, so that's what we do.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Pursuing Malware

A few days ago I reported on BrowserDefender, malware already installed on my new laptop when I collected it.

A few days after uninstalling BrowserDefender I discovered that a bit had survived. There was a folder in ProgramData containing the executable, a dll file, and a collection of 'logging data' The date of the folder suggested it was created when I uninstalled the program. All the files in question resisted deletion, claiming they were 'used by another program'. Eventually I removed them by using Bullguard.

Incidentally the ProgramData folder is officially 'invisible' so it doesn't usually appear in listings. In the routine check on settings that I make when I get a new computer I'd chosen to restore visibility to invisible files. It's as well I did!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Restful Activity v Exhausting Indolence

There are often times when I seem to be getting very little done and yet feel tired. If I can make myself do some job or other, the tiredness usually goes away. I offer this anecdote to the world at large in case people may find it helpful.
To anyone who can't think of anything to do, I suggest that if you have a garden you put on thorn proof gardening gloves, pick up a pair of secateurs, and patrol the garden, looking for brambles to pull up, and overgrown shrubs to snip. Non-gardeners may sort out the contents of their attic/junk room/garage.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Extreme Gullibility

A man was recently convicted of fraud after he turned out to have sold a completely ineffective device that was supposed to detect explosives. Many of these objects were sold to governments to equip soldiers. I find it hard to believe that no civil servant or soldier tested a device before authorising the purchase. The devices seem to have had no working parts, in which case they would never have given any indication of anything.

If someone offered me a gadget of any sort, I'd want to try it out, and also to have a look inside to see how it worked. I fear that many people in important positions feel it would be beneath their dignity to examine a mere machine. We are so dependent on gadgets these days that I think it is unsafe for any position of authority to be held by anyone who doesn't like to play with all available toys.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Pre-installed Malware

I recently bought an Acer laptop.  As I already had a subscription to Bullguard which I was allowed to put on up to three computers, I installed that in place of the anti-virus software already there. I then started to get warnings about dangerous software called Browser Defender, which I have now removed. I wonder if I should have been alerted to it had I not changed the antivirus software.

This pernicious program seems to have been included in the original installation. I intend to investigate how much of the software came from the manufacturers and how much from the retailer.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

An Unintelligent Machine

A few days ago I visited my Sainsbuy Supermarket and bought just one thing - a bottle of milk. Using the automated till I absent mindedly told it I was using two of my own bags. I usually distribute my stuff between two bags, and only after pressing the 'enter' button did I realise  I'd told it I was using two bags for just one item.

I feared that red lights and alarm bells would herald my imminent arrest for 'over-bagging' or whatever the word is for claiming to be using more bags than one is, but all was well. I was credited with two points for my bags, and went my way.

Afterwards a particularly wicked thought came to me. The maximum number of bags one may claim for is nine, and each bag earns a point worth half a penny. Therefore anyone buying an item costing 4p or less and claiming to be carrying it away in nine bags, could get enough points to cover the purchase with a halfpenny to spare.

What can one buy for fourpence in Sainsbury's ?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Praising LibreOffice

My purchase of a computer with Windows8 installed created a problem: what should I do about my large collection of files created in Microsoft Works?

An admirable piece of software, Works provided all the 'office' facilities any reasonable being might need, without the 'bloat' of the more expensive Microsoft Office. Microsoft has now withdrawn Works and the free reader it provides for access to Word files can't cope with Works.

I think MS wants to bully people into buying MS Office; it provides a utility that allows Office to read Works files, but nothing to help those who don't have Office.

Open Office, the free-ware alternative to MS Office can't cope with Works files either and I spent several hours searching the Internet for hints. Then I mentioned the problem in Cix Conferencing, and very soon had the answer.

LibreOffice, an offshoot of Open Office, can import files in a wide range of formats, including Works files and also files in that irritating docx format, which proud owners of the latest version of MS Office like to use to show off at the expense of those who don't have that particular piece of bloat-ware.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Ugliness Therapy

When I taught inn Further Education I used to joke about the College's so called 'Beauty Therapy' courses, saying that they ought to be called 'Ugliness Therapy' because it was ugliness that they were curing.

Recent news suggests that it might sometimes be useful to produce ugliness.

The couple recently convicted of murder after first starving and then beating to death their four year old could be subjected to counter cosmetic surgery to make their appearance reflect their cruelty. They could be made to resemble the pictures of wicked witches and goblins that enliven some children's story books, with long twisted noses with warts on the end, and tufts of transplanted pubic hair spouting from their ears, so people would shudder at the sight.