Sunday, October 19, 2014

Driving down to Beantown

Eldest son was in Boston on business, so I drove down to see him yesterday.  The good news, it only takes two and a half hours driving from Franconia to Logan.  Used to take three and a half a few years back.  Trusty Mercury does 80 mph, no sweat.  Car would be happy going even faster, but Driver worries about sneaky NH state troopers hiding in the center strip bushes.  So I keep it below 80. 
   Coming down from the north, the old Sumner Tunnel route off the Big Dig tunnel is shorter than the new tunnel from the Mass Pike.  Logan parking is ridiculous, $19 for two hours.  I parked on the roof of Terminal B, which is all covered with fancy solar cells.  I wonder how much they cost and what the payback time is.  Betcha the airport is using the $19 parking fees to pay off the solar cells. 
   So for old times sake we spent the day in Harvard Sq.  The Head of the Charles Regatta was on and the crowd was huge.  Much bigger than a few years ago.  So big we couldn't even get into Charlie's Kitchen.  The Sq hasn't changed much since last time I was there, all the nice places are still there, no new places groovy enough to catch my eye. 
   So I dropped eldest son off at a hotel on Atlantic Ave.  Drove right down Mass Ave, thru Central Sq, out Main St and crossed the Charles on the Longfellow Bridge (better known as the Make Way for Ducklings bridge).  Infrastructure fans will be glad to hear that Longfellow bridge is getting rebuilt.  The two inbound lanes are all tore up and closed, inbound traffic is rerouted on the outbound lanes and outbound traffic has to find another bridge.
   On the way home I checked out the NH Liquor Store on I93.  They been rebuilding it; it isn't all finished yet; but it is open to cars (only).  Truckers suck hind teat.  They now sell gas, big self service Irving station which was only $3.16 a gallon.  Cannon contributed one of the old Tramway cars which is mounted on display at the convenience store.  I looked at it, and I do think it's real, rather than a mockup.
   Stupid Beast was pleased to see me when I got home. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Do we have anyone on active duty?

Anymore?   Obama wants to deploy 3000, maybe 4000, troops to West Africa to fight Ebola.  This morning NPR announced that Obama was mobilizing the reserves to raise enough troops for West Africa. 
   We don't have 3000 active duty troops fit to deploy overseas?  We have to call up reserves?  3000 troops ain't much.  What would happen if we got into a war with even a pip squeak country like Syria?  Do we have any active duty Army left? 

Antivirus on Win 8.1

Flatbeast, my new Win 8.1 laptop came with McAfee antivirus installed.  It was a freebie trial installation with a drop dead date.  Either pay up or it drops dead.  Although McAfee is good name in antivirus, that goes way back, back even before Windows, it's expensive, and slow and I have been having good results with Avast which is free. 
   So, when McAffee  dropped dead today, I uninstalled it.  What used to be "Add and Remove Programs" has been renamed to "Programs and Features" but the Microsofties didn't move it, it's still on the control panel where it ought to be.  Removal was a major effort, taking minutes and a reboot.  Uninstalling was like pulling dandelions, they will come up, but they don't want to. 
   So I downloaded the free AVAST, no sweat.
   So I checked on my RAM usage.  With McAfee installed, I had 1846 MB of RAM used.  After uninstalling McAfee RAM usage dropped to 1289 MB.  That's 557 MB worth of antivirus code that used to be hogging RAM.  That's a lot of code.  Flatbeast feels a bit more lively after removing all that baggage. 
   Installing AVAST pumped RAM usage back up to 1570 MB, which is still 270 MB better than McAfee.

Camera bearing laptop?

New laptop has one.  It's buried in the bezel, it only can see out when the lid is raised.  All it can see is my smiling face when I am using the machine.  There is an app to take a selfie for use as account photo.  I have much better selfies I took with a real camera on a tripod.  If there is an app to do video conferencing with it I haven't found it.  I cannot image using it to take pictures the way you do with an Ipad or a real camera. 
   I suppose it's there 'cause it's so cheap as makes no matter.  A couple of bucks for a chip, the lens is molded into the bezel so that's basically free. 
   There is a LED that comes on when the selfie app is running the camera.  I wonder if the LED is hardwired or software controlled.  Could an embarrassment app take a pix of me in my underwear and keep it secret by not turning on the LED?  Not that I work my computer in my underwear very often; it's too cold around here for that.
   Anyhow, to satisfy my paranoia, I placed a bit of masking tape over the lens.   Just in case NSA or KGB wants pix of my kitchen table. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dow is down 84 points, just this morning.

It's close to breaking thru the 16000 level, which takes the Dow back better than a  year.  The TV newsies haven't picked up on this yet, but Win 8.1 stock market app has.  The TV newsies are chatting up Ebola, although there is little that hasn't been said, repeatedly, to report. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Isolation, Texas Health Presbyterian style.

With a second nurse contracting Ebola at the Texas hospital, it has been announced that 70 odd hospital workers are still under observation due to contact with the index patient.  For a guy who was "in isolation" that's a lot of contact.  I'd think you could give first rate care, 24/7 with no more than 4 or 5 people coming in contact with the patient.  Seventy odd sounds like every curious person in the hospital visited the index patient, just to see how he was doing.
   As to how the poor nurses got infected, could be a lotta things.  Some fault in the protective gear, a bad or missing zipper, a loose elastic, a rip, a tear.  Getting out of the gear is tricky.  There are live infectious Ebola virii on the outside of the garment.  You gotta get out of it, without ever touching the outsides of the gear.  Easier said than done. Or Ebola may be much more infectious than is believed.  
   Either way, they both have my best wishes and full sympathy.

NYT reports Iraqi Chemical Weapons coverup.

It's history by now, but the Times reports that US troops occupying Iraq discovered sizable quantities of artillery shells filled with poison gas.  The troops claim they were told to hush the matter up.  This just came on the TV news this morning.
    Somehow this just doesn't sound right.  Much of the justification for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein came from the belief that Saddam was building nukes.  Colin Powell went before the UN and laid his reputation on the line accusing Saddam of having or building weapons of mass destruction.  After the occupation of Iraq we launched a serious search for the weapons which continued for a year.  When it failed to find much, if anything, of nuclear weapons it was a serious embarrassment to the Bush administration.  It is to Bush's credit that he refused to allow the manufacture of evidence  of nuclear weapons.  A few small caches of rockets with chemical warheads were discovered and made the news.  Small means they would have fit in back of a single pickup truck.
  There was a strong desire to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Saddam's Iraq, and I cannot believe that a sizable cache, like the NYT is talking about, was not publicized at the time.