Friday, September 19, 2014

Keyboard Flakie Wakies. Windows and HP Bios

This is a software problem.  Touch typing  causes odd effects like cursor jumping back at random, weird programs starting up, and other badnesses.  Impossible for typing.  There are two bugs causing this behavior that are correctable.  First bug is that the touch pad is active, so that stray finger touches turn into mouse clicks, which make a lot of bad things happen.   
   Touch pad fix.  Do the Touchie-Swipie thing on the right hand screen edge and touch the gearwheel charm for "Settings"   Touch or click on "Personalizations".  Click on "Ease of Access" (text string  in lower left hand corner.  Click on "Make the Mouse Easier to use."  Click on  Mouse Settings (text string toward the bottom.  When the Mouse Properties box opens,  select the "Touchpad" tab.   Uncheck all the boxes.  Then check "Disable internal pointing device when external mouse is present".   Write all this down somewhere, you will probably need to repeat this because Windows sometimes messes this setting up.  This one fix will cut down, but not eliminate the flakie-wakies.
   Sticky Key turn off.   I think this is an HP Bios bug.  HP makes some keys "sticky".  Not sure what sticky is supposed to do, but it is bad for typing.  Press the left hand shift key FIVE times.  This will bring up a little window that allows you to turn off sticky keys.
  Once BOTH patches were applied the keyboard works well enough for touch typing.
  Wasn't that easy?  

Something nice in 8.1

On the touchie-feelie-swipie page they have a "news" program.  Plain maroon square with "news" in the center.  Opens up and it has the sort of stuff you find in USA Today.  Longish (by web standards) articles, nice color photos.  Not bad.  Fairly light weight, but no perceptible political bias.  
  And they have improved the boot time.  8.1 only takes 15 seconds to boot up to the wanna-a-password screen, which is a good deal quicker than XP. 

What does Scotland have in common with Quebec?

They both wised up and voted not to secede.  In case you missed it, French Quebec had been agitating to secede from largely British Canada since Rene Leveque and Parti Quebecois came to power in Quebec in the 1960s.  By the 90's they worked up to a province wide referendum on secession.  It lost, by a very narrow margin.  And, surprise, surprise, they never tried it again.  At the time I expected the French to gather their strength and try it again in a year.  Didn't happen.  Far as I can tell from south of the border, the French decided that the pain in secession outweighed the emotional benefits.  They had done some lobbying on Wall St to see if an independent Quebec could borrow money from American banks.  Apparently the Americans poured cold water on the idea and let the  Quebeckers know that there would be no bank loans, no investment, and no favors done to their new currency.  I think some of this sank in, and a lot of Quebeckers who had liked the idea of secession decided that the economic pain out weighed the fun of being independent.    
   Despite last minute polls showing Scottish secession running neck and neck, secession got voted down in Scotland last night by a 10% margin.  That's a solid win.  And I wonder why the polls got it wrong. 
   An independent Scotland would be fun, but terribly small, only 5 million people, little industry, short cold growing season, harsh winters, and few natural resources.  They would have some North Sea oil but those fields have been exploited for 40 years and the wells don't flow like they used to.   I don't think you can keep a country solvent merely on export of Scotch whiskey.   Tasty as it may be.  And, a country of only 5 million people would be a doormat to the rest of the world, like Luxembourg or Grand Fenwick.  Whereas the United Kingdom has been an international heavy weight since Queen Elizabeth the First.  You are better off as a section of an international heavyweight than you are as an independent sub sized doormat.   

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Windows 8.1.double.bleh

Windows screen had been looking shabby,  menu items would turn invisible under the cursor, title bars were pure black, with no title.  I had to Google to find the the color controls.  A swipe, a click and I was informed the screen was in high contrast mode and nothing could be changed. 
   Back to Google.  I found an obscure workaround, I tried it, and it worked.  Dunno how the screen got into High Contrast mode, and M$'s failure to provide an button to turn it off is inexcusable.  Anyhow the appearance shaped up a lot, and I was able to select the classic windows color scheme.  The 8.1 color settings are feeble compared to XP's.  XP let you set the color, text color, font, font size of every object on the screen, background, title bar, border, buttons, ordinary text, emphasis color (pushed button color), selected object color.  For instance you could make the selected menu bar item turn bright red.  8.1 is not as good, you only get to change background and title bar, nothing else.  So I have blue background and light blue title bar and border.  I'm stuck with brown close buttons on a light blue title bar.  Tasteful that is. 

Shipping out to Ebola country

The TV news says we are sending 3000 troops to West Africa to help in the Ebola epidemic.  I wonder how the troops feel about that.  Me, I'd rather go to Iraq and bag me some ISIS.  That Ebola stuff is very dangerous, with a mortality rate worse than 60%.   You have a better chance of surviving a rifle bullet than that.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Congressman Sensenbrenner calls to abolish BATFE

Article here.  A fine idea.  BATFE are the people that brought us Ruby Ridge and Fast and Furious.  They haven't done anything useful since Elliot Ness retired in the 1940's.  They were originally set up as Federal agents to collect the federal whiskey tax (the revenooers).  A tax that has caused friction since George Washington's time.   Later when cigarette taxes were invented, that job was handed to the revenooers.  And even later when they started passing gun control laws in the 1930's  the revenooers got the job of enforcing that too. 
   For one reason or another, BATFE is heavy handed, corrupt, and expensive.  Far as I am concerned, the laws on whiskey tax, tobacco tax, and gun control are just laws, and can be enforced the way all the other laws are enforced.  Police, courts, marshals, and FBI are plenty adequate.  Shutting down BATFE would eliminate a lot of corruption and wrong doing and save money to boot. 

Windows 8.1.bleh

They crippled up Explorer in 8.1.  The extremely convenient two pane display from XP ain't there anymore.  That one had folders in the left hand pane and contents of the selected folder in the right hand pane.   Made it real easy to drag and drop files from one folder to another.  That's gone.  You gotta open a second Explorer window and set it to the destination folder, set the first Explorer window to the source folder and then you can drag and drop from window to window.  PITA. 
  8.1 will run old XP programs.  My old AZZ cardfile program in which I keep addresses,phone numbers, and passwords did come up and run.  That's a goodness.
  They also hid a lot of stuff.  XP Explorer called a file a file, and showed every file on disk.   8.1 calls some folders strange and special, like My_Pictures, and doesn't show them in Explorer unless you find a strangely hidden menu bar item, and click down  one level on it.  I found it by accident and I'm not sure I could find it again.  It's much more straight forward to just show all files and folders in Explorer.  One big place where everything lives, is simple to use, and simple to code.   Clearly the M$ software weenies have had too much time on their hands. 
   And, the start menu is gone.  That was useful.  You could group shortcuts to related programs, like anti spyware, or graphics editors, or media players, on folders on the start menu.  Made it easy to find stuff, easier than fishing around in Program_Files.