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Happy New Year

Wed 31 December 2014

Posted at 12:51 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Shopping, Gas, and Bowls

Tue 30 December 2014

OMG I made a colossal mistake yesterday afternoon when I went to Wally World (aka Wal-Mart) to pick up a prescription. Knowing that I was going to have to go to Publix I thought I do some shopping while I was getting my prescription. When it comes to shopping at Wally World not everything is cheaper than the same product at Publix and often they don't even have the product I want to buy. But there is a much bigger problem.

Yesterday about 50% of the people shopping had to lean on their cart to prevent from falling down. Many of the shoppers could've moved slower but I just don't know how! It felt like I was a cow in a over crowded cattle car - there are people everywhere moving slower than a sloth with absolutely no awareness of their surrounding environment. It was a horrible experience and one I'll not repeat. It seemed that everyone in the store had to show an ID indicating they were over 60 years old, half blind, slow, with no concern of blocking the narrow aisles. Publix aisles are much wider, the people move faster and are concerned about others in the store around. What little savings may be obtained by shopping at Wally World is simply not worth it IMO.

Yesterday morning John came to visit before he went back to Orlando where he has an apartment. For those who don't remember, John is Starr's oldest son who recently graduated from FSU. He took the LSAT exams a few weeks ago with the idea of entering law school perhaps as early as winter semester. He feels confident he did well mainly because he took a preparation course the previous 10 weeks before taking the exams. For the first semester he'd like to go to Berry College located near his Orlando apartment. He is going on a cruise and will receive the results of his exam the day he returns on January 6th. The picture was taken in Islamorda in the Florida Keys several years ago.

Berry College is not a world-famous law school but does have a good reputation. When he completes law school and passes the Florida bar he'll be able to immediately go to work with this uncle Mark who has a very successful firm in Orlando. My belief is he is certainly very capable of graduating from law school as long as he spends the time going to class and studying a lot. It would be foolish to pass up an opportunity to step into a successful firm which in a few years he could take over. He has another uncle and an aunt that are both lawyers.

While I was out yesterday I decided to fill my tank with gas even though I had about 20% left in the tank which I last filled on June 11th. It costs about half as much this time as it did when I filled up last June. When John was leaving yesterday he noticed my front right tire looked low so while I was getting gas I also filled all four tires to the proper PSI. Each tire was down about seven PSI from the recommended tire pressure. John asked me when I last filled the tires - to my recollection I've not put air in them since the new tires were put on about five years ago. I'm surprised that people at Mercedes in Fort Pierce didn't notice that all my last service trip.

I've not had my car serviced in about two years simply because I've only gone about 2000 miles or less during that period of time. When they service my car they change the oil and add that expensive synthetic stuff - the oil change costs about $150 alone. Why should I take good top quality synthetic oil that's only gone less than 2000 miles? I guess it wouldn't hurt to have it serviced again because I try to keep it in top condition. Years ago I used to change my oil every 10,000 miles or more - my have times changed!

A couple times in my recent posts I've mentioned the upstairs apartment next door and the fact the tenant disappeared one night after a big heavy white person banged on his door between 11 and 12 o'clock on a Saturday night. The day after that incident the police came but did not get in. Since then I've only seen one young college age kid go inside for a few minutes and then leave. I've not seen the guy who rented the apartment go into it in a couple of months now. I did have a sighting of him in a car parked across the street last week but he did not go into the apartment.

Yesterday I saw someone go in but it wasn't the tenant. There is now a small table on the porch that was not there before. My belief is the stuff the guy had in the apartment is still there because I've never seen it taken out. Of course they could've done it at 3 AM in the morning and I wouldn't know. Most of the time I don't pay much attention to the tenants in that apartment but this is the only tenant that apparently had people chasing him.

My old home in Atlanta I lived in for 33 years is now up for sale. It was purchased by two or three young men who planned on being roommates but as things go they eventually moved out to live with her girlfriends, move to a new town for a new job, etc. My plans are two post some pictures available on the Internet by the realtor on another day.

Today there are three bowl games on two of which I think I'll really enjoy. In the Belk Bowl Georgia plays Louisville and in the Franklin America Mortgage Bowl Notre Dame plays LSU. Tonight in the Foster Farms Bowl Maryland plays Stanford. Yesterday's games were good - Clemson beat the snot out of Oklahoma 40 - 6 and a Texas A&M beat West Virginia 45 - 37.

Posted at 12:13 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Sunday Movie, Bowls & Africa

Sun 28 December 2014

Have any of you folks noticed just how many bowl games are going to be played this season? At one point I think I counted 33 bowl games although it seems like there are more. Somewhere I read that there are three or four new bowl games for the season one of which is the Bitcoin Bowl held in Tampa Florida earlier. Today is Sunday and is the only day without a bowl game until January 6. Last night I watched two bowl games - the Duck Commander Independence Bowl and the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The teams I wanted to win in each bowl Duke and University of Miami lost. The games were high-scoring and close so I did enjoy watching them. Yesterday there were a total of five different bowls and tomorrow there will be three games.

Georgia Tech plays in the Orange bowl on New Year's eve against Mississippi State. The people in Las Vegas all think that Mississippi State will win the game by at least one touchdown. Actually I like it when Georgia Tech is the underdog because I believe they seem to play better. If Georgia Tech's defense can stop Mississippi State's offense I think Georgia Tech has a good chance. Will find out in just a couple of days.

Today I watched a movie called "Tusk" rated a 5.7 by IMDb - anything above 5 is usually OK. The IMDb labeled it a comedy/drama/horror movie - what do you expect with that combination? Well in this case the movie was strange to say the least and I watched about half of it although I thought about turning it off sooner. The movie gods were looking over me and cause the movie to freeze after about a hour. The decision to stop watching it was made for me. I would not recommend you seen the movie - I don't want to even talk about the bizarre plot.

A couple of days ago I talked about the series on MSNBC called "Lock Up". Over the holidays they been running several episodes every night. Last night I watched it a bit and reached the same decision as I had before. The people in lockup were there because they were using drugs/alcohol but for the most part somehow seemed to adapt to the situation. That still is amazing to me but I guess you do what you must to get by.

Yesterday I went into my store room famously known as the Dolphin Room to look for some computer related equipment. I was wondering if I can use a WebCam connected to a router with a USB plug without a computer between the router and the WebCam. I do have a router with which I can test this but after thinking about it I've come to the conclusion it won't work because the drivers needed to operate the WebCam will not be found in the router. Of course I can use and IP cam without a router or computer as long as I can supply it with power. An IP cam would be a much better choice than the USB option but it was just my inquisitive mind wondering what can be done.

While in the Dolphin Room I found some actual prints I brought to Vero from Atlanta which included some of my adventure traveling. I can remember the day so very well when the picture you see was taken in Tanzania on the Serengeti. We arrived at this destination via an old WWII DC - 3 airplane from Nairobi. The pilot had to "buzz the landing area" to scare off the wild creatures grazing just below us. I'm talking about wildebeests and impalas - the pilot got within 50 feet of the ground and of course the creatures scattered in every direction.

That Safari with Wendy was among the top two or three adventure trips in my life. Perhaps my first safari in Africa mainly in Kenya would rank number one with this Safari being number two. I'd have to think about it more but maybe trekking through the Himalaya Mountains or cruising through the Galapagos archipelago might be in second place because this Safari was my second one. If you have one out of the country adventure trip to making in your life my pick would be an African Safari. I can't begin to tell you all the exciting daily adventures we had on this 26 day trip.

For the last couple of days I've been working on the packet sniffing applications I mentioned earlier and a way to block a specific IP on my home network when I'm not using the device to which the IP is assigned. On my next post I'll talk about these exciting discoveries while trying to not put you to sleep.

Posted at 05:19 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Packet Sniffing

Sat 27 December 2014

On my November 11th post of this year, I talked about a new device Amazon is developing called Echo. I said then Amazon's Echo is designed around your voice. It's always on just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more. Echo begins working as soon as it hears you say the wake word, "Alexa." It's also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound. Echo's brain is in the cloud, running on Amazon Web Services so it continually learns and adds more functionality over time. The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences.

It is always on but will not activate until you call its name according to Amazon. Personally I believe this is a lot of horseshit! I believe it is one of the marketing coups of the decade in that people will willingly let this device listen to their conversations and deliver marketing information to Amazon. They don't say this is what it does but I bet the farm it does exactly that. If you had guests over and with the device "off" you talk about new refrigerators for example you can bet the next time you go to Amazon you'll see advertisements for refrigerators. If you were talking about pots and pans then you would see pots and pans on Amazon's home page. What an exceptionally brilliant idea to get people to willingly put a device in their house which can listen and delivered marketing data to Amazon.

I did put myself on the list requesting an invitation to buy the device when it becomes available. I've not received my invitation yet however I fully expect to once they built enough of these things to me what will be a huge demand. I think it will just be fun to play with but my interest goes deeper than that.

I've acquired the best "packet sniffer" being used today by both amateurs and professionals alike. This software captures "packets" going between devices on your own home network and the Internet. For those who don't know a packet is basically a box containing data which is being sent to and from computers, tablets, smart phones, and any other device connected to your home network. I just recently installed the program called "Shark Wire" on my laptop. Frankly I was rather taken back by the amount of data traveling over my network every minute. I'm talking about hundreds of packets some of which are in plain text and can be easily read without translation. This morning I saw one packet sent from my router to I laptop with the question, "who is this?" Funny don't you think?

This software is so sophisticated and so complicated I've not got a clue on how to use it yet. It would be like installing Photoshop on your computer with no previous knowledge of image editing or manipulation. Worry not, I will learn at least a basic understanding of the information the software collects. Heck, there are a dozen or more protocols I've never heard of before! The image above I made to illustrate my network and the points of sniffing. I want to see exactly what Echo sends home!

Many of you have probably heard of the cable network known as Fuse - they play music and sometimes have a program called "takeover" when they play music from a single artist. For 12 hours today they're playing Michael Jackson videos. I've been watching it often on which reminded me of how surprised I was to learn that Michael Jackson himself designs the choreographed videos and directs how they are produced. He's not simply a talented singer but rather is the whole ball of wax. Many artists you hear can sing but that's about it - what Michael Jackson does goes far beyond that. Much of this I learned by watching the movie "This Is It" - the rehearsal for his last concert before he died.

Of course I don't like all of his music but there is much I do like. One thing that is especially appealing to me is I can understand the words which is often not the case with other artists. The performance he gives in a video or in a concert is rather astonishing if you think about it. I know. I know. He's a bit weird but then if you look through history you will find that extremely talented people are out of the mainstream for one reason or another. I think Jackson could have been a pedophile but I don't know that. Clearly pedophiles are not mainstream. Leonardo da Vinci was gay which was out of the mainstream in his day. Stephen Hawking has lived with Lou Gehrig's disease now for 30 years longer than expected. Sigmund Freud smoked nicotine and cocaine almost continuously. Tesla was known to begin work each day at 3:00 AM and continue until 11:00 PM! Charles Dickens kept his comb nearby and ran it through his hair hundreds of times a day. I could go on and on but I believe I've made my point.

Today there are four or perhaps five bowl games I can watch. The first just started but the one I'm interested in - the liberty bowl - starts at 330 this afternoon. The University of Miami will play South Carolina University - I'm interested in both teams so that should be exciting for me. My team plays in the arms bowl on New Year's Eve.

Bitcoin has not been doing particularly well from a standpoint of the exchange rate in the last half of this year. Today the rate is down to around $320 when it was at $370 or higher most of the summer. The news has been nothing but positive as Bitcoin becomes more and more widely accepted than most ever dreamed. Merchants who accept Bitcoin don't worry because they exchange it for cash on an exchange within a few minutes of receiving the Bitcoin - Coinbase is the "PayPal" for Bitcoins. Of course I'm still holding onto the coins I have and remain optimistic that they will grow in value in the years ahead. I will admit it is disappointing to see its value cut in half over the past six months.

The best source of daily information on Bitcoin is a website called Coindesk.com. Their comment most recently was, "Over the past 12 months, the price has been buffeted by a diverse array of factors, ranging from adoption by payments giant PayPal and technology goliath Microsoft to the massive sell-order from the 'BearWhale' and rumoured clampdowns by the Chinese authorities." I can't tell you what really is going on concerning the exchange rate but I can say Bitcoin acceptance is growing dramatically. Thus I continue to remain optimistic.

Recently I was channel surfing and landed on one of those networks which talk about fashion, actors, musicians, etc. part of the interview I saw was with Justin Bieber who is no longer a little kid. I've not been following his music career but apparently it's doing exceptionally well. The only thing I hear about him is on the FOX Business news when he's been arrested for fighting, reckless driving, DUI, and those sort of things. They showed several pictures but one rather shocked me because he's a different kid now than when he first started singing at 13. Of course when I was in my early 20's I look like he does except without the tattoos! If you believe that I have some old bridges up like to sell in New York.

Posted at 02:55 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Day after Christmas

Fri 26 December 2014

On Christmas Eve there was a major traffic jam on 23rd St. just outside of my house. It lasted for the better part of an hour or maybe more late in the afternoon. The image to the left shows the pictures I took both East and West to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. This does happen around here occasionally but usually it is affiliated with a funeral. This I think was just Christmas eve madness. Doesn't bother me because I'm inside where it's warm and I have a big screen TV. I just thought it was rather unusual.

Christmas morning I was invited to have breakfast with J and Kay Evans which I did. K always makes these awesome breakfast dishes and good coffee. We just set around and talked about this and that for couple of hours until they had to go meet someone to pick up a gift for their youngest son Nicholas. It was a used leaf blower for his new house. They tell me that Nicholas is into recycling big-time and therefore many of the things he will be putting in his house will be recycled meeting used elsewhere first. Let me tell you boys and girls that's a great idea because you can spend a lot of money buying new things for your home when it's totally unnecessary. Believe me I am an expert on that after my major remodeling in Atlanta 30 years ago. I bought all new furniture, kitchen appliances and other similar items. They were expensive but many of them are now in my house in Vero.

I've not seen Nicholas' new house which is in the process of being re-modeled. I don't know where it is other than it's in Sebastian somewhere. I know the whole family has been working on it off and on for a few months now and there's still more to do. Maybe one of these days I'll be invited to see it but if not it's not a big deal. Besides you folks know I don't like traveling much and going to Sebastian is a major road trip for me.

There is a series on MSNBC called "Lockup". It is a prison documentary series which airs on MSNBC. The Lockup franchise also includes Lockup: Raw, Lockup: World Tour, Lockup: Extended Stay, Lockup: Special Investigation, and Life After Lockup. The series explores prison facilities throughout the United States, profiling notable inmates, incidents, and prison operations. A typical episode usually follows one or two inmates as they attend disciplinary hearings, receive visits from family, and interact with other inmates. In some episodes, inmates are provided with personal video cameras ("inmate cams") to use in their cells for recording their thoughts.

At first I had a difficult time in watching this for reasons I won't go into now but eventually I did see several programs. Many of the inmates interviewed in the program seem to be very normal except they are incarcerated for some poor judgment/decision they made to get them there.

With out exception every inmate interview was high on alcohol and or drugs when committing the offenses that got them into prison.

Of course I don't know all the details of a inmates history but from just watching the show it seems to me that some sentences being served were extreme relative to the crime. Of course it could be that the inmate had a whole stream of previous crimes but they don't tell you that in the series. Most people don't make wise decisions when they're under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I can speak from personal experience that alcoholics can make decisions they would not make if they were sober.

An other thing I learned in the series is that most inmates had been there before yet continue a behavior which sent them back to prison again. It would seem to me the way to avoid future incarceration would be to avoid mind altering substances which is the source of poor decision-making. Perhaps that's not true in every case but I bet this is the sticks will show it is true in most of the cases when people return to jail or prison.

The series also shows how inmates adapt to their environment in a way I personally can't see it possible. It must, after a few weeks of imprisonment when you conclude you'll be there for a while and therefore should do the best you can for yourself by following the rules and engaging in extracurricular activity were possible. The whole thought gives me the creeps.

Today there are three or four college bowl games on none of which are significant but could offer great games. If two teams with a record of 6 - 5 playing each other and it's a high-scoring close game than in my mind it's a great game no matter what their record may be. I suspect I'll watch parts of all of during the day.

Last evening I had Christmas dinner with the Barnes clan which I've done every year since I've been back to Vero. MaryAnn is a great cook and once again provided a wonderful feast for us all. How can you go wrong serving medium rare beef tenderloin? She also made a variety of dishes including an artichoke dish, a squash dish, mashed potatoes, green bean dish, mushrooms, salad, and probably of the things I've already forgotten. As always I enjoyed myself being surrounded by my extended family. During the dinner I did offer myself up for adoption but unfortunately there were no takers!

Posted at 12:03 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Christmas Eve

Wed 24 December 2014

It is Christmas Eve and I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and the best to you in the New Year. I hope Santa brings you everything you want and that 2015 is a safe, happy and prosperous year for you. I'm looking forward to next year hoping some good things will happen. Hopefully I'll maintain my health and all my body parts. I'm not sure why but I'm thinking 2015 will be a good year for me.

For the last couple of days I've been playing around with my computer and other electronic gear. Yesterday I did an update including an optional update for my Sound Blaster audio driver. After the update I lost all sound on my computer. I thought about doing a system restore but instead investigated options knowing that the update was probably the cause. My best guess is that Sound Blaster made itself the primary audio driver when it updated. Up until now my default audio device was a Real Tech high definition sound driver. So I went into the panel which controls sound devices and switched from Real Tech to another input and bingo I had sound again. In fact the Sound Blaster drivers and control panel are better than what I was using so I'm not disappointed in the change. It just stresses me when I lose sound for no particular reason.

Today I tried to connect my Western Digital media player to my home network and I was successful in doing just that. What I was unsuccessful doing was in enabling the WD player to access my desktop computer through my home network. I knew what the password to my home network was but it asked for a username for the Western Digital device. I have no idea what username it wanted so I tried several none of which worked. This is really no big deal because I can transfer whatever files residing on my desktop to an external hard drive and play those files just like I do movies. In this case I'm talking about music and/or music videos - I'd like to see what these video sound like on my amplifier rather than the speakers on my desktop.

When I woke up this morning my TV was on a movie channel and just as I turned it on the movie "City Hall" was just starting. I've seen this movie before but it's been a long time so of course I forgot what happened. It starred Al Pacino and John Cusack - this was a good movie. In fact I didn't even get out of my pj's and have breakfast until the movie was over. Generally I like just about any movie those two actors are in. There are several actors that fall into that category of liking movies just because of the actors in it.

I've run on the energy so I think I'll return to my TV chair and watch a while before John arrives.

Posted at 05:48 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Movie, Code, and Hackers

Tue 23 December 2014

Last evening I was feeling rather down for no particular reason. When that happens, I usually put my phone on my answering machine and then select the movie to watch with the hope it would drwa me into the movie. I first started to watch the movie called "I Origins" but after 15 minutes I had to switch to something else - it was entirely too slow for me. The movie was given high ratings on IMDB but that doesn't necessarily mean it's good. I may try watching it again sometime in the future.

Then I tried the movie called "The Equalizer" starring Denzil Washington. OMG was this a great movie! It was full of nonstop action, introduced several different characters and kept my full attention for two hours. IMDB rated it a 7.2 with this brief comment. "A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can't stand idly by - he has to help her." This was definitely my kind of movie.

Denzil L Washington plays Robert, a "retired" CIA black ops dude. The way you retire in the CIA is to fake your death so that all your enemies think you are 6 feet under. He was most successful at this for years but had to step in to help a little 11 year old Chinese girl who was wanted by the Chinese mob and the Russian mob in New York City. Without going into details let me simply say Robert was one unstoppable bad ass. His character was very much like the character in the movie "The Punisher" - and was able to take on a half a dozen tough guys at a time. This movie will go where my short list of movies to watch again.

Something rather unexplainable way has happened to the world famous website, BillsView, you are now viewing. My guess is most of you folks don't know how to build a website using HTML and PHP as I did with Bill'sView. Most of the complicated code was written in PHP over 10 years ago with the aid of a young British college student I found on the Internet. This code is not any of the standard blog type codes readily available but rather a custom-made blog site. I've kept in touch with his young man (whose name has slipped my mind) over the years by sending small gifts via PayPal for no particular reason. This was unexpected to him and as a returned favor he was always available to help me with a code problem.

Without going into boring technical details let me just say that webpages are rendered on your computer screen from the file in which they are located on a server. An example path would be: http://website.com/workfile/notes/page.php. If you wanted to see the web page "page.php" you would use the URL I just made up. Coding a website is specific and only on the proper path should you be able to see the website. However, for reasons I cannot explain yet on my site you can also see the same page by going to : http://website.com/page.php - I have no idea how this works. The text and pictures on my pages are located at : http://website.com/workfile/notes/ - so how does that data get to http://website.com/page.php when there's no code telling it where to look?!

This is probably boring to you but a mystery like this is interesting to me because I want to know how it works. I've had this website for over 10 years and there are a lot of files within files within files on this site. I also use it to test other websites and web applications from time to time. For any of you who understand what I've just said you should be curious too.

About a month ago I was telling you I changed my online financial accounts to require a two step authorization for access. What that means is to get access to my accounts you must have my username, password, and

unique six digit code generated at the time of login

by a tiny device I have to my desk drawer. The accounts I have that Fidelity, Bank of America, PayPal, Coinbase, The Circle and eBay required the six digit code. Just how important is that you ask?

A couple of months ago J.P. Morgan Chase was hacked and millions of customers' private information like Social Security number, date of birth, address, employer,etc. was stolen by the hackers. This morning on FOX Business news the means of hacking was disclosed. Here is a quote from the New York Times : The hackers that stole millions of depositors' contact info from JPMorgan Chase earlier this year didn't use any kind of sophisticated malware like the one that took down Sony Pictures' computers. No, they managed to steal people's info, because the bank failed to upgrade one of its servers with two-factor authentication, according to The New York Times.

"Due to the lack of two-factor, the hackers gained access to sensitive info using just log-in credentials stolen from an employee."

Now you can understand why I implemented two-step login! It was clear to me months ago I should activate to step authorization where ever I can. This realization came to me when I joined a couple of Bitcoin exchanges which required two step authorization to do just about anything. If you have sensitive accounts online you would be foolish not adopt a two step authorization login.

UPDATE : I figured out the code mystery - I missed a .PHP include call.

Posted at 01:11 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Christmas week.

Sun 21 December 2014

Since I woke up this morning I've had a headache. By now you folks know I get these fairly regularly. It got worse as the day progressed but fortunately the medication I have reduces the pain. As I'm sitting here thinking about my headaches I wonder if acupuncture would be beneficial to me? If it would be I certainly wouldn't hesitate to try. Can acupuncture be self administered? Pills are something I would like to eliminate totally and in the future there might be another medication I'd like to try. These headaches are no fun at all but at least I have ways to manage them.

Unfortunately Pirate Bay is still down - my best guess is it will stay down for some time. The alternative sites do have some newer movies and applications but the selection is rather limited compared to Pirate Bay. Many of these less known sites give you a gift when you attempt to download and that is the gift of adware. Fortunately Kaspersky doesn't like adware and blocks the downloads. Kaspersky has gotten so sophisticated that it will block ads appearing on other websites without blocking the whole website. That's rather useful because many people acquired their nasties by simply going to a valid website that unknowingly has evil advertisements on it.

About a month ago I mentioned a new program being released by the people at WinPatrol. It is called WinPrivacy and this morning I received the first link for a download of a WinPrivacy beta version. Reading the issues about this beta version in the email and then investigating what other people say on the forum I've concluded not to download this version but rather wait a few weeks until some of these issues can be resolved. Apparently one of the big issues is the application will not install and a 64-bit Windows 7 operating system which is what I have. So I may not even be able to install it if I wanted to but at the moment I'm not even going to try.

This afternoon I watched the last two episodes of True Detective. This is a HBO series recommended to me a couple of months ago so I downloaded the first season. It started out rather slow in my opinion but I am not disappointed with season one at all. The two main characters were played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson - they did an excellent job in the series. The plot was interesting and a bit off-color but that adds to the mystique of the series. Naturally I decided to download season two except I found season two is still running with several episodes left. When completed I'll download the season to file.

I'm finding that many of the TV series I watch and previously have downloaded are available to me on either Netflix or Amazon free of charge. I can see myself going to one of these sources to watch a series rather than downloading it. I will say however the 1080P downloads I get are superior to the high definition broadcasts. But then again for the most part series broadcast on networks are 720P meaning the only way to get 1080P is from a Blu-Ray disc. The way I watch TV may be evolving right before my eyes.

Speaking of watching TV I've noticed that just about every network will have a marathon on or around Christmas of one of their more popular programs/series. I'll probably be able to overdose on several different series - as of yet I've not identified which programs will be in the marathon. I'll not be bored on Christmas day and especially look forward to having Christmas dinner with all of the Barnes clan including all five siblings along with their wives/girlfriends/fiances. MaryAnn is a fabulous cook and of course I'll enjoy being around the whole crowd. I think all the siblings are in their 30s now but Ty is close to 40 if he's not already there. I'm so very fortunate to have this family adopt me - I'll be the only one there who is not part of the Barnes clan by birth or marriage.

As usual I expect MaryAnn to prepare all kinds of goodies for the dinner. She always has beef tenderloin instead of turkey - how can you possibly go wrong with beef tenderloin? She'll have hors d'oeuvres, drinks and dinner including dessert. I'm thinking about making one of my world-famous key lime pies to bring as an offering. With as many people that will be there I'll probably have to make two times to have enough for this crowd. My belief is that there will be 13 of us not including the rugrats.

The Evans family always graciously invites me to their holiday celebrations as well. They usually have an eclectic crowd of folks joining them. I am bummed out that two young people very dear to me will not be able to attend this year. I'll likely go early in the afternoon then head over to MaryAnn's house around four which will be the beginning of cocktail hour. My guess is for the boys cocktail hour will likely start around noon. If I were still consuming adult beverages, cocktail hour for me would begin whenever I woke up in the morning!

Yesterday I received an email from my personal take baker, Alice. I was stressed to find out that she is sick with a sinus infection. Of course I hope she gets better soon for her sake but also for my sake - you never know when I might need and emergency cake baked!!

Posted at 05:40 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Movie - Bowl Games

Sat 20 December 2014

This morning I was awakened by a knock at my door. It was my regular post man making a delivery from Amazon. Now days Amazon uses carriers like UPS to get packages in a general area and then turn them over to the USPS for final delivery. Whatever they're doing is working well as I am getting all my deliveries within two days or even less.

The movie I watch was called "Behind Enemy Lines" starring Gene Hackman and Owen Wilson - anything Gene Hackman is in I almost always like. Over the years he has been one of my very favorite actors along with other old timer tough actors like Clint Eastwood. The story took place during the Bosnian war about a Navy navigator who is shot down over enemy territory and is ruthlessly pursued by a secret police enforcer and the opposing troops. Meanwhile his commanding officer goes against orders in an attempt to rescue him. He gets rescued of course. What I particularly like about the movie was the several scenes containing F-18A Horrents - ever since I saw the Blue Angels this past summer I get a thrill out of watching them fly. The movie was decent and I'd watch it again.

This past week there was a meth lab bust here in Vero. Krystal Adkins, 32, of the 1800 block of 49th Avenue was charged with possession and manufacturing of methamphetamine. It looks to me like she's been sampling her own product for good length of time don't you think? Long time use of methamphetamines can rot your teeth out, cause you to lose weight and create sores all over your body. What a lovely thought - with all those great results why shouldn't all of us try it? Her bail was set at $70,000.

Unfortunately college football season is about over. Today there are four bowl games starting at noon and continuing back-to-back until the last is finished. Some of the bowls of never even heard of before. They are the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. If the games fall into the category of the type of games I like to watch then I really don't much care who's playing. My type of game is high-scoring, the lead changes hands during the game, the score remains close most of the time and there are some rather outstanding plays. Georgia Tech will play Mississippi State in the Orange bowl on New Year's eve. Between now and then there are 19 other bowl games. Often when the cameras scan the stadiums you'll notice some are only half full. I remember going to the very first Peach Bowl in Atlanta when the stadium was only a third full. I also remember the temperature was in the 30s with a nasty wind making it feel a lot colder. Since then the Peach Bowl has become one of the more famous bowls.

I mentioned this before - recently I've been noticing that I can order a product from Amazon and have it delivered to my doorstep in two days or less while paying less for it than if I were to purchase the same product at Walmart or Sam's Club. Surprisingly this is also true of litter which weighs a lot. I can get a 28 pound box delivered to my door for $17 which is less than the cost of the box at Walmart before taxes. Is Amazon making any money? How?

Many times over the past I've talked about phishing emails and how good they have become. Here are screenshots of just two of the most recent emails I receive. I think the one about checking my Walmart order was rather clever - lots of people shop at Walmart. The other one from Wells Fargo was easy to figure out because I don't have a Wells Fargo account! I wonder what percentage of the people who receive emails of this nature actually respond by clicking on the link which I'm sure requires input of secure information? I hope the text is large enough for you to read it.

Posted at 03:32 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Goverment Omnipotence

Fri 19 December 2014

I am outraged this morning after reading the comments IRS Commissioner Koskinen made yesterday. In a news conference on Thursday he made these comments, "The IRS is considering its own temporary shutdown due to recent budget cuts enacted by Congress, its chief said Thursday. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said furloughs - forced unpaid days off for employees as part of an IRS closure - is one idea reluctantly being tossed about to save money, though they are hoping they will not have to go there." He went on to say, "Budget cuts at the IRS could delay tax refunds, reduce taxpayer services and hurt enforcement efforts, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said."

In the recent budget deal, Congress cut the IRS budget by $ 346 million to $10.9 billion. "In some ways, these budget cuts are really a tax cut for tax cheats," Koskinen said. That is a whopping 3% cut - OMG is the world coming to an end? Statements like these are particularly offensive to me because they illustrate the systemic thinking of most all government employees. Would they ever consider consolidating departments, turning three jobs into two, or saving spending in other areas? Of course not!!! Government entities always think in terms of increasing their budget not decreasing the opportunity to spend more money than they need.

In the real world businesses have to make decisions based on revenues. Sometimes this requires laying off employees, reducing inventory, postponing projects, replacing employees with computers, downsizing departments, etc None of these options even enter the mind of Government at all levels. Do you remember the "government shutdown" about a year ago? What did Obama shutdown you ask? He close government functions that would directly affect Americans in an adverse way like closing national parks, stopping White House tours and postponing tax refunds when there were untold numbers of other areas that could be cut without negatively impacting on citizens. He did not cut any of those because someone may come to the inescapable conclusion that may be some employees are not needed! By the way, any government employee who was laid off for a few days simply got a paid vacation because when the budget was settled it included retro active payment to laid-off individuals.

I pay for a subscription to a online newsletter called Windows Secrets. It is mailed to me every week or two and covers a variety of subjects all of which has to do with Windows. Yesterday's newsletter gave me yet another reason to be extremely pissed off at the overreaching government entities. There is a case in federal court in which a search warrant ordering Microsoft to disclose the contents of a specific @msn.com email account. While preparing to comply with the warrant, Microsoft discovered that only the account holder's name, email address, country, and similar information were stored in Microsoft's U.S.-based servers. The true subjects of the search - the emails - actually sat in a server in Dublin, Ireland (most likely because the person who set up the account told Microsoft that he or she lived outside the U.S.).

As required by the warrant, Microsoft disclosed the details of the account to federal investigators/attorneys -

but it refused to divulge the content of the emails because, according to Microsoft, it was outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.

Huge kudos go out to Microsoft for making the correct decision and standing their ground. Unfortunately they lost their battle in one court but are now appealing to a higher court. At that point, an array of companies and organizations - the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Verizon, AT&T, Apple, Cisco, and Infor, among many others - filed amicus briefs supporting Microsoft's position. YFI an amicus brief is a filing by parties not part of the case, who offer information that bears on the case but who has not been solicited by any of the parties to assist.

Do you folks see the substantial consequences of such a subpoena should it be upheld?

This may go all the way to the United States Supreme Court. US government agencies have no right to demand information located in other countries!! I am infuriated that any government attorney believes they have this power! If this camel gets its nose under the tent all hell could break loose! God help us all.

You can tell it is Fall here at the Vero Villa - just about all the leaves on my maple trees have changed colors and are falling off the Trees. In a week I bet they will all be gone. It is a nice sunny day with the temperature at 68 F - very pleasant.

Posted at 11:15 am in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Stocks, Sony & Cuba

Thu 18 December 2014

If any of you have been paying attention to the stock market you will know that it has been on a steady decline for the last week. The market has lost about 800 points on the Dow but yesterday there was a significant rally because of the Federal Reserve meeting. In the meeting they decided to keep interest rates low well into 2015 when the market expected rates may go up sooner rather than later. This caused a huge rally with a Dow Jones increase of over 250 points. That is significant and I'm pleased to report it continues to increase this morning.

I looked at the few mutual funds I have and noticed that two of them went down significantly while everything else was up. My mutual funds looked like the red line in the image when it should have looked like the green line. What happened was two mutual funds made a distribution of capital gains and dividends which reduce the value of each share in the fund. But in the end I now have more shares of each of the funds meaning I really didn't lose value as it initially appeared. This is not uncommon in the world of mutual funds. A fund will declare a dividend thus reducing the value per share without informing the owner that a dividend/capital gains was declared and now more shares were issued to compensate for the decline. I should know that by now but it still causes me to gasp.

Now I'm in the middle of installing an operating system on Walt's new Intel solid-state hard drive. I was mostly through with the installation when the screen turned black and gave me two choices either of which I understood. I selected a choice which caused the installation process to start all over again. It is installing now and hopefully I won't have the same problem again. Stay tuned. Update - I did get it installed properly.

By now you've heard about Sony's decision to not release the comedy about the North Korean dictator. North Korea hacked into the Sony system recovering private emails, Social Security numbers of every employee, future operating plans of Sony, and other most private information. As a result, Sony has made the decision not to release the movie at all. My personal view is that is the wrong decision - Sony should not allow that fat little dictator in North Korea to control their business. What company is next?

For a few weeks now I've been talking about the neighbor next door who lives in the upstairs apartment. I have seen no sign of activity although the porch light does stay on all night. I'm sure the guy that used to live there is gone although I never saw any furnishings or belongings removed from the apartment. It remains a mystery.

Emperor Obama decreed the United States will have normal relations with Cuba once again. There has been an embargo for about 50 years I think. I don't like the fact he simply waived his magic wand to do this but in all honesty I to believe there was time to make a change after 50 years. I do not believe they are the threat they used to be and I believe the citizens of Cuba will see an improvement in their standard of living. Because Russia is broke they can't afford to support Cuba any longer. Plus the Castro brothers are both old as dirt and should die soon. It is a great tourist destination with outstanding sportfishing, scuba diving, casinos, and a lot of cheap Cuban made products. Plus those who smoke cigars will be happy to legally be able to get them again.

Posted at 01:14 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Home Shopping

Wed 17 December 2014

Most of you folks know how much I dislike the necessities of having to leave my house. Perhaps that's a reason why I still have gas left in my tank when the last time I filled it was on June 11. Recently I've done some research comparing prices at Walmart to Amazon. In many cases the prices I found for items at Amazon cost less than the same item at Walmart including Amazon's delivery of the product to my front door in two days or less. Except for doctors visits I could probably arrange to have everything delivered to me without leaving my house. I'm trying to do my part in reduce carbon emissions by driving as little as possible. The other advantage to driving as little as possible is the good people of Vero beach are safer when I'm not on the road especially at night! So when I make out my shopping list I'll compare prices at Walmart to those at Amazon to see if it is more cost efficient to order from Amazon. Of course Publix is almost always higher but I like going there.

Speaking of Amazon, I now have my new Fire Stick connected to my entertainment center. The HDMI switch I ordered arrived today and I'm using it to connect either my Apple TV or the Amazon Fire Stick to my surround sound amplifier. The switching device has a plug for a DC power supply - the power supply did not come with the switch as I thought. The good news is the switch works perfectly fine without separate power. The remote control for the switch uses IF which means the receiver must be in my line of sight and close to me. Fortunately the switch did come with an IF receiver which I attached to the outside of my cabinet full of electronic gear. As long as it works from my bedroom chair everything is good. It does work with smooth switching and there seems to be no loss in quality of the signal to the receiver. I still have one more HDMI port in the switch which is unused at the moment. Just wait I'll find something.

The weather in Vero today is exceptionally nice. There is not a cloud in the sky and the temperatures are moderate. I was reminded of the nice days we used to have in the Florida Keys so I looked at some pictures. For your viewing pleasure you'll see a picture of John and me after a lobster hunt several years ago. For those who don't know, John is Starr's oldest son who hopes to get into law school after graduating from FSU recently.

Walt came by yesterday to pick up the two laptops I upgraded for him. One I simply set back to the factory settings while the other I installed Windows 7 ultimate. This was Walt's computer and even after cleaning it up he still thought it was slow which from my point of view I can confirm it was slow. In my view he needed a SSD to make it a sweet laptop. He agreed so I ordered an Intel 120GB series 520 - I have the same Intel SSD in my personal laptop. There was one heck of a sale on just the hard drive at Amazon so we ordered one yesterday - it will be here tomorrow. The SSD was on sale for only $75 which is a bargain for that particular Intel model. Of course that means I'll have to install an operating system again along with some programs which I just got through doing on his old hard drive. Hopefully it will go faster now that it is a SSD drive. That's one of the projects I have for tomorrow.

As I mentioned before Pirate Bay is down. There is a Pirate Bay clone established by one of the other torrent sites to keep things going. Somehow they had the complete database for Pirate Bay so anything that was there before it was shut down is still there. I have downloaded from this site with success and safety. I've looked at other torrent sites and almost without exception you get a bonus when you download a torrent - the bonus is malware used to provide advertisements. Of course my Kaspersky immediately stop any potential unwanted download and I could look in the Kaspersky logs to identify which adware was being stopped. I have to tell you I'm more and more impressed with Kaspersky as I learn more about what it can and in fact does due to protect me. It's simply the best.

This morning I turned on my VPN but it would not connect to a server. I tried several different servers both in the United States and other countries all of which failed. Then later I couldn't even long into my VPN. Of course I fired off an email wanting to know what was going on and within an hour I received an email back saying everything is up and running now. There were some sort of glitch at Astrill - at least it wasn't my program on my computer. Their email said, "There was a short outage caused by some problems with our API servers. This is resolved now. We apologize for the inconvenience." I wanted to download "Tusk".

Posted at 05:31 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Bitcoin Growing/Entertainment Center

Tue 16 December 2014

Every day I checked the Coinbase.com website for the most current news on Bitcoin. There is always some positive news on the website although the exchange rate of Bitcoin has been lower than I would like - it has been in the $370 range but today is down to $345. The headline on the website today was,"Time Inc Becomes First Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin". More and more mainstream companies are accepting Bitcoin as payment for their products and services. The image to the left is what you will see on the checkout page of Time magazine. More and more financial institutions and professional talking heads have stated that Bitcoin is here to stay. I have not bought nor sold any of the coins I have - I plan to wait until the exchange rate gets a good bit higher.

This morning I installed a new Belkin 12 outlet surge protector for my entertainment center. The previous surge protector strip I had could only accommodate six outlets so the upgrade and expansion was a necessity from my point of view. Of course the Belkin strip is plugged into my backup power supply which will keep everything plugged into it running when I lose power. Here in the city limits of Vero Beach where I live power goes out frequently but usually only for a second or two. The only way I know the power goes out is because I hear the several power backup supplies I have come on for a second or two. Yesterday was one of those days where I lost power for about two seconds. My view is back up power supplies are a necessity for electronic equipment. I have four of these devices ranging from 450 W up to 1350 W - the latter is for my computer.

The new Amazon Fire Stick says it will run off the power provided by the HDMI connection but in my case that is not true. Fortunately it comes with a DC power supply which makes the device runs smoothly. Now my issue is my surroundsound amplifier only has three HDMI input ports and now I need another one for the Fire Stick. So I found a HDMI three way switch I plan to try by connecting my Apple TV and the Fire Stick into the switch with one outgoing HDMI cord going to my amplifier. The literature on most switches say power supplies are not necessary because the HDMI cord will supply the DC current necessary. I didn't buy that so I bought a switch that comes with a DC power supply and a remote control. Just what I need - yet another remote control! I ordered the Belkin strip yesterday and received it this morning; the HDMI switch should arrive tomorrow morning. Amazing shipping service for this time of the year.

Many of you have not seen the Vero Villa before I completed the major upgrading of everything inside and installed landscaping on the outside. These pictures are the before and after look of the south side of my house. They were taken from different angles but show the same side of the house. Notice any difference? Now you can see just how much effort I put in designing and installing my landscaping. Actually Walter did the installation but I chose the plants and layout design.

Posted at 03:37 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Fire Stick

Sun 14 December 2014

Yesterday I received my Fire Stick from Amazon - just like Amazon TV only much smaller. It is a device about 20% larger than a USB flash drive but has a HDMI male connector. There is also a small plug on the side of the vice where you can plug in a power supply. The very abbreviated manual included in the device box said better results will come from using the power supply. I found that without the power supply I get no results at all!

To tested I connected it to the 24 inch HD monitor I keep in my closet to hook up to computers on which I work or in this case to test the Fire Stick. Once connected to a power supply it did launch the initial setup but because I already registered in my Amazon Prime account I really didn't need to do anything except connected to my wireless network. I first tried my guest network with total failure because there was no way to input a password. I then tried my home network and was able to login without a problem.

The remote control is about the size of the Apple TV remote - in another words it is small. I was able to see the venue that was available and tried several different video options but I could not connect to any that I tried. I was looking for free video options but the Fire Stick does not indicate if they video is free or if there is a charge. Of course I have not read the online manual which will probably explain all this to me - I just don't like reading manuals. What I did discover is I can go to my online Amazon Prime account and select movies that were free then add them to my wish list. My wish list immediately appeared on my Fire Stick and I could click on the movies I selected and watch them for free. Actually this is probably a better solution for me because I can take my time online reviewing the videos and then just placing them in my wish list. I did not try any of the other services available because most of them require a subscription. The next big thing is to see how I can connected to my big-screen television - maybe I'll try later today.

Late yesterday afternoon I managed to work up one of the worst migraines I've had in a long time. It took more medication than usual to reduce the headache but I was successful. The thing is I don't like using much medication at all especially the ones that can be addictive. I'm sure you can understand my view on that.

Yesterday Lance's mother, Kay, came by with her laptop because her free AVG program had expired and she thought she was without protection. Actually when a antivirus program subscription expires the program continues to work it just does not update anymore. Before she came by her youngest son Nicholas said I needed to reformat the hard drive because it took five minutes for Chrome to open. He was just simply wrong! Both browsers open almost immediately as well as the limited programs on the computer itself. All I needed to do was to put a new license key in for AVG Internet security.

At first my plans were to uninstall the free AVG program and then install Kaspersky - I have real licenses for Kaspersky. Before I did that I checked the Internet and what ever I "Googled" took me to a page that had a list of 10 keys for AVG that are allegedly valid through February, 2018. Because I did not have to download a program I did not see any risk in trying a key. Bingo - the keywords and now she has a fully licensed AVG program.

Unfortunately Pirate Bay is still down but the good news is there are a couple of Pirate Bay spinoffs that are up and running. I tested one yesterday and it worked perfectly well just like the Pirate Bay. It had the same torrents, search engine, up loaders and was hard to tell it wasn't the real thing. Heck, it might become the real thing for me. Anyway I plan on watching a movie or two I downloaded this Sunday afternoon when I can finally take my mind off of their issues.

Posted at 01:19 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Pirate Bay Down!

Thu 11 December 2014

I am in told shock and horrified because my favorite movie venue is GONE! For many years The Pirate Bay has been sailing by the seat of its pants so any downtime is met with concern from its millions of users.

Tuesday morning, for the first time in months, The Pirate Bay disappeared offline. A number of concerned users emailed TF for information but at that point technical issues seemed the most likely culprit. However, over in Sweden authorities have just confirmed that local police carried out a raid in Stockholm this morning as part of an operation to protect intellectual property.

Does this mean that Pirate Bay is gone forever? My guess is probably not - when there is a void usually someone rushes in to fill it. There is already talk about new Pirate Bay sites starting up in different parts of the world. The authority for torrent sites is a blog called "Torrent Freak" and this morning the main article gives hope that Pirate Bay will be recessitated. There is already a site that looks like Pirate Bay that is online now except it has no data at least not yet. Of course there are many other torrent sites but none as reliable and with as much variety as Pirate Bay. I'm rather depressed about all this.

Earlier this week my landscape guy dropped two laptops off for cleaning and/or update. One of the laptops was used for the kids in the family so all I did was to restore it to its original factory settings. That worked just fine but it will need updating and probably some software not included in the original factory image.

The other laptop was Walt's personal laptop he infrequently uses but needs all the same. Most of his work is done on a new desktop I assembled for him earlier this year. By the way he loves the desktop I put together for him. This laptop is old and slow as laptops tend to get after years of use. It even had Windows Vista installed on it. The first thing I did was offload his 22 GB of iTunes music and backup data for his Blackberry then I reformat the hard drive and installed Windows 7 ultimate. This installation took hours part of which was installing the operating system itself and at least two hours of updates. Then of course I had to install programs I know he needed and transfer his music back to this computer. Both laptops are good to go.

My friend Marilynn in Atlanta has a website Lance and I built for her called SpecSolutions.net. Because lances is on the West Coast now any updates she needs I've been doing for some time. This week I added five or six new pages and removed two old pages. I like the site but I don't like the fact that plays music when you first open the webpage or at least it does on many computers. I have code like that blocks so it does not play music on my computers. Have a look.

It is safe to go back to the updating ccleaner version 5. In version 5 you can turn off the monitoring by simply unchecking the activation on one page. For the first time in forever it has a new GUI (graphic user interface). I've not investigated it thoroughly to know if there are other advances but I still think it's a great program for cleaning temporary files and trash that accumulates on a computer.

Remember I mentioned that the kid next door in the upstairs apartment had someone banging on his door late one Saturday night and the police showed up the next morning? The apartment has been dark until yesterday when the porch light came on again and I saw one young guy walk in and almost immediately walked out - he was not the tenant. Since then I've not seen any other activity so I have no idea what's going on yet.

This morning was the coldest morning we've had in Vero since last winter. It was in the 40s here and won't get higher than the 60s during the day. Fortunately the wind is not blowing and there is a clear bright sunny day. Often we would call this a "Chamber of Commerce day".

Posted at 12:08 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

GT to Orange Bowl

Mon 08 December 2014

Yesterday I received an email from Georgia Tech with an invitation to join fans at the Orange Bowl on New Year's Eve. There was a time I would go but Publix and Wal-Mart are my range of travel now. I'm both happy and surprised at just how well the Yellow Jackets did this year. It would be nice to beat the higher ranked Mississippi State.

It is another nasty rainy day here in Vero like it has been for the last 7 to 10 days. I wish the sun would come out - it is gloomy now.

Posted at 12:58 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

GT loss - Just Damn!

Sun 07 December 2014

As you probably have heard by now Georgia Tech loss to FSU last night in the ACC championship game by score of 37 - 35. What might surprise you is that I did not watch the game because I did not want the stress and anxiety I knew I would experience. I always know that I can watch the replay if I want to - I'm not sure I will yet. At this point I cannot tell you that Georgia Tech made a lot of mistakes or didn't play as well as I know they can. The bottom line is that FSU won. It is interesting to note that the three games Georgia Tech loss this year they lost by a total of just six points. That is a pretty impressive record in my opinion and I'm proud of the way the Georgia Tech team played this year. Of course they will go to a bowl game yet to be determined.

This morning I spent about 2 1/2 hours watching the Palladia music video channel on my cable. It seemed the thing to do for relaxation and enjoyment after the disappointing loss last night. The music videos played this morning were all pretty darn good - most of them used acoustical instruments and I can understand the words! Then I watched a few OAR videos I have on my computer. I have downloaded a complete Jason Mraz live from Korea concert video so I might just watch that this afternoon.

This past week on the FOX business news channel they have been talking about this large black man who was killed during an arrest attempt for selling individual cigarettes on the street. It would have been his 11th arrest for the same charge. So how can someone make money selling individual cigarettes on the street? It turns out that a pack of cigarettes in New York City cost $12.50 and if he sold each cigarette for a dollar he could make about eight dollars a pack. Can you imagine? I'm so old I can remember when cigarettes were $.30 a pack although I did not smoke. Of course most of the cost of the cigarettes are New York taxes.

In my last post I talked about a new program called WinPrivacy soon to be released by the people who developed the WinPatrol program I've been using for years. If you want to know more about the new program click on the image and it should take you to another page.

I'm not sure why I've become even more interested than ever in privacy. Maybe it was reading about Canvas Fingerprinting that has inspired me? Yesterday I use my Kaspersky Internet security suite to make some detailed adjustments. In the firewall section I've blocked Internet access to all Google programs. I double checked my browsers to make sure Java has been disabled. I blocked some programs from running at all unless at some point I choose to use one of them. When I did a full scan with Kaspersky eight unwanted objects were found in a Chrome folder inside a Google folder which was stored on my 2 TB "C" drive which I used mostly for storage. It has an operating system on it and I can boot from it any time I want to but I choose to boot from my "J" drive which is my solid-state hard drive.

After some research I discovered a program that will monitor all the devices on my home network and tell me which ones are connected to the Internet, what IP they are connected to, and capture the "packets" going to and from each device. When I finally received the Amazon echo device next year all be able to monitor its Internet activity when it's supposed to be off. This should be an interesting experiment them to think?

Posted at 02:56 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Canvas Fingerprinting

Fri 05 December 2014

You folks know how careful I protect my Internet privacy and how seriously I take the threat of hacking, capturing my passwords, and other invasions into my computer life. This privacy issue is one of the main reasons I am not a member of any the social website/media. I have blocked active script from initiating on any of my browsers and I have blocked my browsers from forwarding me to another site without my knowledge and permission. These techniques are often used to put Trojans on your computer without your knowledge. Even valid websites can have rogue advertisements on them which will automatically execute if you simply go to their website. The two worse places to catch a chosen or virus is on a social site or through email attachments.

The thought of companies tracking my Internet surfing just offends me. My browsers have a little utility known as Do Not Track Me which goes a long way toward not being tracked on the Internet. Many if not most sites want to put a cookie on your browser before you can go to their site. This little utility sends a message back to the site such that it thinks it has a cookie on my computer. It's the only utility of its kind and I've been using it for years.

While on a security form today I discovered a new nasty tracking method called Canvas Fingerprinting. Popular, heavily trafficked websites are increasingly turning to "canvas fingerprinting" in order to track your online movements. Canvas fingerprinting is extremely hard to block, hard to detect, and has become a unique identifier that logs your 'Net history as you jump from site to site without you knowing about it - on desktop and mobile devices. The shocker for the researchers is that while standard cookies, primarily on desktop, have long tracked your movements, with users being able to opt out with ad-blocking software, canvas fingerprinting actually takes control away from the users and is virtually impossible to detect.

Most but not all the sites observed in a test used a content-sharing widget from the company AddThis. When a browser loaded the AddThis widget, JavaScript that enabled canvas fingerprinting was sent. The script used a capability in modern Web browsers called the canvas API that allows access to the computer's graphics chip, which is intended for use with games or other interactive content. An invisible image was sent to the browser, which rendered it and sent data back to the server. That data can then be used to create a "fingerprint" of the computer, which could be useful for identifying the computer and serving targeted advertisements. Your unique fingerprint can be identified by websites which you go to without using a cookie. Just think about it - no matter what website you go to that site knows who you are in more detail than you even want to think about. This sort of crap really pisses me off.

I'm still doing research but the articles I've read thus far have said that the AddThis which it uses JavaScript which enables the fingerprinting to be sent. I have JavaScript disabled in all of my computers so maybe I might be safe but I'm not sure yet. One of the articles also said the utility I have called Do Not Track Me might also block this canvas fingerprinting.

Now comes the good news. A program I've been using for years called WinPatrol is coming out with a new program called WinPrivacy in the next several weeks - maybe before the end of December. Having a pro version of WinPatrol I was given the option to prepay for the purchase of this new program at a 80% discount - I couldn't send my money fast enough! Here is what the new WinPrivacy program will do:

**WinPrivacy rips open the veil of secrecy programs have been hiding behind by exposing every single program on your computer that is using the Internet.

**WinPrivacy tells you from where each program is sending and receiving data, and how much.

**WinPrivacy gives you the power to block Internet Access for any program(s).

**WinPrivacy lets you block any unknown programs from using the Internet without your permission.

**WinPrivacy is highly configurable.

**WinPrivacy removes 3rd party Flash Cookies

**WinPrivacy blocks Canvas Fingerprinting

**WinPrivacy tells you which sites DO NOT use Canvas Fingerprinting

As far as I'm concerned this is a Godsend. I hardly wait to install it. If you do not have WinPatrol you should and while you're at it buy WinPrivacy. Of course if you don't care that the world knows where you go, what you do, what you say, what you buy, with whom you text, etc. then just ignore my suggestion.

Of course I have to remind you of the ACC playoff game tomorrow night. FSU is favored by most everybody with a point spread of4 to 7 depending on which bookie you talk. Yet there are those who say that Georgia Tech is not a sure loser and could end Florida State University's flawless winning season. Nothing would please me more.

Posted at 03:28 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

College Football Rankings

Thu 04 December 2014

There is one more week until we know exactly who will play in the College Football Playoff, but a lot can change between now and then.

The committee has released its penultimate rankings. The Top Four teams are the ones who would compete in the semifinals if the season ended today. However, we know better than to assume the favorites will win in college football.

After a season full of crazy upsets and surprising results, we should prepare ourselves for more twists and turns during championship weekend. Above is a full look at the latest rankings - hopefully GT can mess-up FSU's chances.

Jerry Hinnen of CBS Sports said this:

"Florida State has flirted with disaster all season long against a whole series of teams that aren't as good as Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets' two losses - to Duke and North Carolina - were by a combined 11 points. They won every other ACC game by double digits.

I think it's going to be another come-down-to-the-wire kind of thing. At this point, honestly, I think Georgia Tech pulls the upset. If you're Florida State, you can't just keep doing this game after game after game and expect to come through it unscathed. I think Georgia Tech gets them."

You can rest assured I hope he's right!

Posted at 03:00 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Not Much

Thu 04 December 2014

With a serious migraine attack around midday on Thursday I decided to take the necessary medication with the intent of kicking back and watching a good movie. I succeeded in killing the migraine with the medication and I also succeeded in kicking back but the movie I picked was a real flop as far as I'm concerned. It was called "Guardians of the Galaxy"and was rated 8.4 on IMDB which gave me great hope that it would be a good movie. WRONG! It was full of special effects with a lot of razzle dazzle but the plot of the movie and the movie it self really didn't deserve a grating above two or three on IMBD in my opinion. It just wasn't any good! I usually like high-tech science fiction movies but this certainly was not one of them. I can guarantee you one thing, I'll never watch this one again.

On a different subject I did a routine scan with MalwareBytes on my main XPS computer and to my surprise he found a "conduit" registry entry. The program suggested it was of little risk but I know differently. Conduit is one of the major nasty malware software that can invade your computer. Some versions are worse than others but any version at all is not good. Of course I pulled it out by the roots from my registry - I hope they got it all. This damn malware often comes along with seemingly "normal" updates on programs that are otherwise trustworthy. It really irks me when you get a Java or or even a flash player update. Often it depends on what site you use to download the updates because some are cleaner than others.

I've noticed my fast XPS Dell computer has become a tiny bit slower to open programs than it used to be. Certainly that can be attributed to all the programs I've added to the operating system since I've had it for almost 2 years now. If it were such a pain in the rear and I reformat my solid-state hard drive then reinstall the Windows 7 operating system I'm currently using. I haven't done this because I recognize that soon I'll be having to move to a newer operating system probably skipping Windows 8 altogether and going to Windows 10. I don't see that happening real soon but there are copies of Windows 10 available for testing and I have access to those copies.

We had a cold front moved in and the temperature dropped into the 50s overnight. It was windy and damp both of which are good reasons to stay inside. Fortunately I am well stocked and there was no need to make a run to Publix at least not yet. I'm also working on two different projects at the moment each of which could take all day if I'm not careful. One has to do with helping Nicholas with a new website and the other with my interest in using a high gain network adapter mounted somewhere outside. I've not checked it yet but I'm pretty sure there will be several Xfinity hotspots within range of my antenna. Today I should get the hardware I wanted to help set up a test to see just how far I can receive stations.

Posted at 02:51 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

New Dragon

Tue 02 December 2014

Something weird happened this afternoon. Most of you folks know I have a call blocking device on my phone to block telemarketers and others whom I do not wish to talk. This time it was one of those telemarketers trying to get me to consolidate my credit card balances to one new credit card. The truth is I do not have any credit card balance on my two cards nor do I keep a balance at any time. I frequently paid these credit card balances on a daily basis. What was weird about this particular telemarketer was my caller ID showed my telephone number and my name! I know how to spoof both someone's telephone number and someone's name but I've never seen a telemarketer do it before. So now I have blocked my own number in case it were to happen again. Because I cannot call myself from my own number it will do no harm at least that's what I think.

You folks probably know that after all the years I've been using a computer I cannot type except with one finger. It used to take me forever to type a post on Bill'sView but now I've been using Dragon NaturallySpeaking for the last couple of years. I had version 11 which I obtained from PB but for some reason it was making more mistakes than it used to so I thought it was time to make a change. If you read some of the blogs in the past you probably found mistakes I did not correct. I'm finding I have to go through everyone and correct mistakes rather frequently. This is being typed with my new Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 12.5 which should be more accurate and has more commands available to me. When I get through with this dictation all read it to see if there are mistakes.

My old Dragon version could not tell the difference between "when" and "win" or "no" and "know" as it should do by the context of a sentence. Thus far this version seems to be doing rather well - I've not noticed any mistakes yet. I can give the various commands to the extent I probably can learn to use my computer without ever touching my keyboard or mouse. That's not my purpose - my purpose is to avoid having to type letters, blogs, forms, etc. I spent about two hours installing the new version and much of that time was used to train it. The more I use it the more accurate it should become.

Today the tower (computer box) for Bridget's gaming computer arrived. I have not taken it out of the box yet but plan to do so probably tomorrow. It was an overcast rainy day in Vero and if I'm going to work on a computer I need all the light I can get. At my age I need plenty of light and glasses to see what I'm doing. You'll remember I mentioned I didn't want to assemble this gaming computer because the parts are expensive and I was afraid I may damage one. The two people I know that have assembled several computers both told me I could do it with ease - easy for them to say. But when I found out that the instruction manuals that were rather thick had so many pages because they were in 17 different languages I discovered there wasn't really much instructions at all. Most of these instructions were pictures and not text. So tomorrow I'm going to take a closer look to determine if this is something I want to undertake.

Thus far I have resisted buying new toys even though there are some great bargains out there. I really don't need any new toys but I did buy a a new external hard drive knowing that I'll eventually need it to hold my digital media. At the moment I have 12 external hard drives holding movies and TV series. They are all the small portable ones which do not need a power supply. The new ones I'm buying use USB 3.0 although I don't think that makes a difference with my media player. Did I mention I left the media player with my cousin Alice the Baker? I don't think she's tried it yet because I'm pretty sure she'll call me when she does. She told me she didn't want one but I think she very well may change your mind when she sees what it can do.

After Thanksgiving I had several Tupperware containers full of leftovers. I put portions in my vacuum seal plastic then into the freezer they went. I now have enough frozen vacuum seal containers to feed me for several weeks. I really love my vacuum seal device and my only regret is I didn't buy one sooner. I did give one to Alice the Baker just before Thanksgiving as a gift I thought she would use.

I've downloaded two different screen capture software programs so I can record whatever is rendered all my monitor. Most of the time I can download the video file directly from the source except I cannot do that with ESPN. Surprisingly I have purchased product keys for both programs because the year old versions were so cheap and for my purposes will work perfectly fine. I've not installed either one yet and when I do I may install it on the other hard drive in my computer. I'm always using my solid-state hard drive but I do have a 2 TB Western Digital hard drive installed in my computer as well. It has an operating system on it so I can boot it if I wish but I use it as a storage device - I can easily move files from the two hard drives at any time.

Well, how did Dragon do?

Posted at 07:23 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

The Weekend

Mon 01 December 2014

It was a rather exciting weekend around here. First of all, I still can't get over the exciting end to the Georgia - Georgia Tech football game on Saturday. I know as I get older I cannot watch these games anymore because I'm liable to have a coronary. When Georgia Tech scored the tying three points by kicking a 54 yard field goal with only 2 seconds left I was in total disbelief! This always happens to UGA not to GT. Then when Georgia Tech scored a touchdown in the first overtime but had the extra point blocked I just knew that Georgia would score a touchdown and make the extra point. That's how it always is except this past Saturday Georgia Tech intercepted the ball on the goal line to in the game. What an exciting game it was particularly in the last 60 seconds.

This coming weekend Georgia Tech gets to play Florida State University ranked #2 in the country. Forget the rankings for just a moment, FSU just has a good team and seems to pull it out at the end of every game. There is only one game this entire season when FSU beat their opponent by more than six points. This does give me a glimmer of hope because GT has a good type of offense which FSU has not had to face this year. GT runs the option keeping the ball on the ground most of the time. The secret will be to keep the ball out of the hands of FSU's offense. I'll not get my hopes up and be just totally shocked if GT wins like I was this past weekend.

On Saturday night around 11 PM I was in the kitchen and looked out my window to see some big guy pounding on the door of the upstairs apartment behind my house. This guy kept pounding for several minutes and was yelling obscenities at the same time. No one came to the door but my best guess is no one was inside. I have no idea what this was about but rarely do I hear anything outside of this house because it is so well insulated.

On Sunday morning two deputy sheriffs came to investigate. You can see the poor image I took outside of my kitchen window. They too failed to get anyone to answer the door and my belief that guy has gone. There was a young man that looked like he was going to college and even appeared Polynesian to me. He's had a couple of girlfriends and I know they tangle with one another. I'm baffled as to why some big burly white guy would come beat on his door at 11 o'clock Saturday night? Maybe I'll find out in the future.

Amazingly my Comcast speed has been higher than usual in the last two weeks or so. I paid for their "extreme" package which allegedly provides 105 Mbps although I rarely hit that high. I usually was in the speed range between 50 and 90. Look at the image of the screenshot I took over the weekend. This was not just a fluke because it has happened on several recent tests. Online I read that Comcast is increasing their extreme package in the future and have already done so in four states. Some forums suggested they may be testing speeds which is why mine is higher now? I do know one thing about Comcast that continues to increase and that is my monthly charges!

On Thursday night as I was leaving the Barnes residence it was not late but it was dark. I managed to clip their black mailbox with the passenger side mirror of my car. The mirror came out of the encasement but did not break nor was the encasement bent or damaged in any way. I tried a few times to "pop it back in" but I didn't know the secret. This morning at eight o'clock I took it to Joe's paint and body shop and they were able to repair it in just a few minutes. I am rather confident that if I had continued to try and repair I would've at least broken the mirror and maybe the motor that controls it. The man I deal with there did not charge me so I sent him an e-mail when I got home offering to help with any computer or laptop he has without charge.

Posted at 02:56 pm in Uncategorized | Comments (0)