Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's baack

My old friend virus DOS/Alureon.A popped up yet again today. His footfall is heavier and louder now, I pretty much knew I had a virus as soon as he showed up. I ran the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool (January version) and if found him. Only took 4 hours of scanning.
But the damn thing has gotten wilier. The fix I posted about earlier this month no longer worked. Alureon has figured out how bollix the ComputerManagment/Storage/DiskManagment tool I used to blow his partition away last time. The tool still starts, but Alureon has done something magic to cripple the tool and make it ignore the hard drives. It just shows the DVD drive.
However antivirus MalWareBytes has gotten stronger and was able to find Alureon on a quick scan and blow it away.
I don't know what security hole in Windows is letting this bastard in, but Microsoft hasn't patched it. Thanks Bill Gates.

Voter ID

Listened to a long talk on NHPR about voter ID. It gets down to "show a picture ID (driver's license for real people) in order to vote." Such a law failed to pass in NH just the other day. Can't remember if the Gov'not vetoed it or they didn't have enough votes.
Trouble is, none of the three guests on the show were willing to admit that we had any voter fraud in NH. So if we don't have a problem, why are we agitating for more red tape? I mean our polls are all manned by public spirited, un-paid volunteer citizens who get up early and work late on election day. God bless them. I don't want to make them do even more unless there is good reason for it. If we don't have a problem, why make things harder for everyone?
Plus, my town is so small everyone knows every one, and the volunteer poll workers pretty much know every voter.

Monday, January 30, 2012


The Wall St Journal reports the Pentagon spent $330 million to develop 20 fifteen ton bunker buster bombs. Wow.
That's $16.5 million per bomb.
Bunker busters are nothing new. British genius Barnes Wallis invented the first one back in WWII. Wallis' "Tallboy" weighed six tons, and the later "Grand Slam" weighed ten tons, the heaviest that 1940's aircraft could get off the ground. These bombs have a very strong steel casing and when dropped from high altitude, they penetrate deep into the ground before exploding. The casing has to be very strong, in one case, old cannon barrels were used to make the bomb casings.
Nothing here to justify a $16.5 million price tag.
Looks like a good place for some defense budget cuts. Better here than cutting 89,000 soldiers and marines.

Computer Movie Reviewer

Good old Netflix keeps throwing up movie suggestions " You ought to rent this one" to me. And Netflix does pretty well, most of the suggestion are things I like. Netflix claims to select each movie suggestion "because you liked Such and Such".
This means that Netflix has a way of classifying movies, so that given one movie the customer likes, the computer finds movies of a simular classification system.
I'd love to know just how that classification system works. How much weight is given to who stars in the movie vs subject matter, vs era, vs who knows what? Surely a classification system that matches my personal likes and dislikes so closely could tell us something about what makes a good movie and what makes a crummy one.
Hollywood could use the help. They have been making more crummy movies than good movies lately.

Rising Sun Victorious by Peter Tsouras

An alternate history of WWII where Japan wins. It's written for history buffs and wargamers. It discusses a variety of alternate histories. For instance, more effective Nazi diplomacy gets the Japanese to attack the Soviets rather than the Americans. This scenario actually makes some sense. The Nazi's came very close to crushing the Soviets in the first year. Had the Japanese attacked in Siberia it might well have tipped the balance. The last German drive on Moscow was stopped by reserves that Stalin pulled out of Siberia. If the Japanese had gone on the offensive, those reserves would not have been available.
Other than that, the idea that Japan could defeat a United States with a larger, loyal, and warlike population, vastly greater national territory, advanced technology, massive industry, and plentiful farmlands is foolish. Admiral Yamamoto understood this, no other senior Japanese leader did.
What the book does highlight is how slender the US margin of victory was. At Midway had a lost American air strike turned south to look for the enemy instead of north, or had a Japanese cruiser's floatplane got airborne on time, the Japanese might have won. Had a Japanese admiral had a little more Samurai spirit, the battle of Leyte Gulf would have been a famous Japanese victory.
A fun read.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


How big does a black bird have to be to be a raven instead of a plain old crow? I just had a black bird that musta been better than foot long from beak to tail strut down the middle of the road in front of my place. Surely that is too big not to be a raven?


The great model train show that is. It's so great that I drove down, some three hours, and so as not to miss anything, I got up early and had the Mercury on the road at 0600. It was still pitch dark, sun rise didn't happen til 0700 and by that time I was over on I91 headed south at 80 mph. Sunrise was lovely and surprisingly brief. Lasted about ten minutes and then it was daylight.
By the way, I don't believe all that stuff about crumbling infrastructure crying out for money. I91 was pot hole free, fresh black asphalt, not too much traffic. Not like New York which is a state of potholes.
The show was huge. It was in the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield. It filled four big exposition halls with running train layouts and vendors selling all things railroad, from striped engineer hats to railroad lanterns to $1000 brass steam locomotive models. My feet managed to survive all four halls and five hours. They filled up all the open land with parking. I saw plates from NJ, NY, MA, CT, NH, Quebec and Ontario. Like maybe a third of the plates were from out of state. Crowd was easily in the 100,000's. The aisles were jammed, mostly with seniors of my generation and grandchildren. The kids were all well behaved, well dressed, and skinny. If there is a childhood obesity problem you couldn't prove it by this crowd.
A fun day, and the cat was overjoyed to see me when I got back.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Poor Cannon

Bad weather for skiing. It blew hard all last night, rattling the windows, with a trace of snow. But now it warmed up to nearly 40 F and its raining. Bad for the skiing.

Circustime on CNN

Caught last night's debate on CNN. Arrhg. It was a circus, complete with steam calliope, three rings of newsies pontificating, and a truly clueless ringmaster.
The ringmaster was Woof Blitzen, a sawed off little guy who doesn't shave and has oatmeal for brains. He managed to get Mitt and Newt to trash each other on stage, it took Rick Santorum to point out that they both sounded like idiots while doing it.
Give me debates on Fox any day.

Then they got going on NASA. None of the candidates had a clue about the real issue. Since we scrapped the shuttle, we cannot get astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) except by paying the Russians. That makes it a Russian Space Station, since the Russians control all access. We have two commercial boosters (Space-X 's Falcon and Atlas V) that have plenty of boost to loft capsules full of astronauts and supplies up to the ISS . So does NASA use a well proven and paid for existing booster? No way. NASA started an expensive new booster program (Constellation) and managed to spend every penny they had before Congress shut the program down. Since then NASA has been completely wrapped up in turf wars. We should just flat build a capsule, pop it on top of a Falcon or an Atlas V, and launch. NASA seems incapable of doing this. So cut NASA out of the picture and let a contract to Space-X or Lockheed to get on with the job.
None of the candidates understood these issues.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Obama's State of the Union that is. Ran for an hour and a quarter, promised pie in the sky for nearly everyone without ever getting into specifics. Never used the words "Keystone XL", "deficit", "Solyndra", "Iranian nuclear weapons", "cap and trade", "capital gains", "global warming", or "health insurance".
Raved on and on about ending tax breaks for corporations that "ship jobs overseas". Strange, I never heard of THAT tax break before. It probably exists only in the minds of Democrats.
He got a lot of standing ovations. I could not be sure on account of the camera angle, but it looked like only democrats stood up to clap for him.
There is a republican slam video going around showing clips of Obama saying the same damn thing at his State of the Union speech this year, last year and the year before. That pretty well sums it up, this guy has run out of ideas. And a good thing too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

TSA hassles Congressmen

Back when I was an Air Force officer, USAF doctrine on Congressmen was very firm. Treat them with courtesy and respect, get them any information they ask for right away, fly them anywhere they want to go, and furnish them with an official car and a driver. Be nice.
Why? Two reasons really. The Air Force is the armed force of a democracy, it is under the control of the civilian government, and Congressmen are that civilian government. Showing respect to a Congressmen is like showing respect to the flag. Plus, Congressmen write the Air Force budget, treat them properly and the service might get more funding next year.

Now we come the the TSA, who hassled Senator Rand Paul the other day. TSA apparently doesn't believe in showing respect to anyone, let alone Congressmen. And they are stupid enough to think they are immune to budgetary reprisals. That is an atrocious attitude for the security forces of a democracy.

Health Care according to me

My concern is that the US spends entirely too much money on health care. We spend twice as much as any other country on earth, 19% of our GNP. For spending twice as much, the health in the US is no better than any other country. In short we spend twice as much and get less than other countries.
Health care does not create wealth, it consumes it. Health care spending does not produce goods or services than can be sold, exported, or consumed. The US cannot compete against foreign countries when US products bear a 19% markup to pay for the workers health care, and our foreign competitors only pay 10%. Manufacturing is "outsourcing", moving overseas, in order to avoid ruinous US health care costs.
Why is US health care so expensive? Simple. For the majority who have health insurance, it's all paid for. The providers, facing cost increases, merely raise their fees. The patients don't care, they don't have to pay for it, that's what insurance is for. So why not do that extra CAT scan, just to be sure, do that extra doctor's office visit, do some extra blood work, it's all paid for. I remember Uncle Remus, where Brer Rabbit claimed to be making a dollar a minute. My doctor does better. My last yearly office visit cost my insurance company $500 for fifty minutes. That's ten dollars a minute.
If patients had to pay for health care out of pocket, a lot less money would be spent. Insurance is needed to cover the big stuff, because the big stuff can cost more than a house, and few people have that kind of money. But the routine stuff, yearly physicals, children's earaches and sore throats, a few stitches here or there, most of us can handle out of pocket. You used to be able to buy "hospitalization only" policies for $3000 a year, as opposed to "everything is covered" policies that cost $12000 a year. With the $9000 savings you can do a lot of routine stuff. And, since it's your money, you will bargain for fees less than ten dollars a minute. Obamacare outlawed those, all that is legal now is the $12000 covers everything policy.
Competition would bring down the price of health insurance. If insurance companies were allowed to sell policies nationwide, policies would cost less. Up here in the northwoods there are only TWO health insurance companies selling policies. If we could buy our insurance from any company in the US of A, we could find better prices out of state.
Competition would bring down the cost of medines. We ought to be able to buy pills from any decent first world country, like Canada, England, Japan, or pick your favorite. We can't because US drug companies have wined and dined the FDA into forbidding imports, so that they can charge ridiculous prices ($2 a pill) to US patients.

Too bad none of these made the Wall St Journal 's list of "crucial" health care issues.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Health Care according to the WSJ

Special six page section in today's Wall St Journal devoted to "six crucial health care issues" with pro and con articles on each one. Somehow the Journal's six crucial issues" are not my crucial issued. The Journal lists:
1. Should everyone be required to have health insurance?
Of course the medics love this one, it would ease their burden of indigent care. Doctor's have to treat all patients, it looks really bad should they pitch someone out on the street 'cause they don't have any money. If everyone is required to buy health insurance, that problem goes away.
2. Should healthy people take cholesterol lowering drugs to prevent heart disease?
Jeeze, you'd think this question should have a solid statistical answer, you know compare life expectancy of people taking cholesterol lowering drugs with those that don't. Apparently this hasn't happened or the Journal was able to find some doctors who don't believe cholesterol lowering drugs actually do much. The drugs are pretty cheap, the one I'm on, Simvastatin, is only $4 a month from Walmart. Lipitor is coming off patent and should get cheap soon.
3. Should we create a medical ID number to tag patient's electronic medical records with?
This is a crucial question? Once your medical records are computerized, hackers will get them and sell them to employers, political enemies, nosy neighbors, the cops, and a whole bunch of people you would rather not see them. A special "unique" ID number won't make much difference.
4. Should doctors use email to communicate with patients?
I think they are trying to say that doctor's could cut back on office visits if they accepted and answered email queries from patients. This is crucial? In actual fact, the doctor is always going to say, "Why don't you come in and we'll have a look".
5. Should drug patents be extended?
That's obvious. The drug companies will say "Yes" and the rest of us will say "No".
6. Can "Accountable Care Organizations" (ACOs) raise quality and reduce costs?
Who knows? But this sounds like Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) all over again.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Well, Newt came thru like gangbusters and the GOP nomination is still open. And we still haven't killed off Ron Paul or Rick Santorum. But it surely looks like a showdown between Newt and Mitt.
The real question is who has the best chance of beating Obama? Both Newt and Mitt have some baggage that doesn't help. Newt has a long history of supporting and defending damn near everything under the sun. So does Mitt. Newt has two exwives and two ugly divorces. Mitt is a rich man who pays capital gains rates.
In my estimation Mitt should have handled the Bain Capital attacks. He had his supporters, Chris Christy and the Wall St Journal step up with solid defenses, but Mitt said nothing. Mitt should have said "At Bain I invested money into [list of winner companies]. Those companies are doing well today and employ [pick a good defensible number] people, who would be on unemployment today except for my investments in their companies. "
Mitt never came forward with a tax overhaul plan. 9-9-9 might not be fiscally possible but it was clear and simple and we voters had no trouble figuring out what it would mean to us. I have no idea what a Romney administration would mean to my taxes. Mitt has learned the lesson of the media too well, don't say anything at all because whatever you say gains you enemies, never friends. He has been very adroit at coming out four square for motherhood and apple pie and never saying anything of substance. We voters notice. Particularly from a man who has stood on both sides of abortion, single payer health care, gun control, tax hikes, and many other things. If you look at Mitt's record, you can't tell where he is coming from, and waffling on the debate platform doesn't help him.
Gingrich sounds very good on the debate stage, and we love to hear him raking newsies over the coals. He figures the newsies will never give him any decent coverage so why not let 'em have it, right between the eyes? It's a good show, and there are enough obnoxious newsies out there to furnish a target rich environment right up to November. Gingrich sounds feisty and we voters want someone to go to Washington, take names and kick ass. Gingrich puts on a good show, although a thoughtful voter might think that trashing Congressmen the way he did poor Juan Williams could be counterproductive.
But, who can win against Obama? Up til last night, I would have said "Mitt". Now I am not so sure. I want a candidate who can win because four more years of Obama will wreck the country, even worse than it is now. I am not yet convinced that Newt is electable. And we have endless primaries yet to go.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mitt's tax return

Actually, we don't need Mitt's tax return. When he said he paid only 15% he did himself a lot of damage. And I'm sure Mitt has that right. He makes his money by selling stock or cashing in stock options, rather than taking a salary. And selling stock is perfectly legitimate capital gains. I ought to know, I spent plenty of time in the past figuring capital gains on my stock sales. A guy like Mitt shouldn't be paying more than capital gains rate (15%) unless his tax accountant is brain dead.
Mitt would have done better to just release his tax returns without comment. Few newsies are intelligent enough to read a form 1040 or schedule D and they might not have noticed that most (perhaps all) of Mitt's income was from capital gains.
A better public debate would be about having capital gains at all. Why not tax money made by playing the stock market the same as money made any other way?

Heard on NPR

"Or perhaps the voters won't accept anything (Newt Gingrich's ex wife trashing him on ABC) from sources that they don't like. "
"Don't like" isn't the issue. "Don't Trust" is the real issue. I was surprised to hear that staid old NPR has finally realised that the MSM has a credibility problem. Dawn over Marblehead.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Looks like SOPA/PIPA is dead

Or at least seriously wounded. We should not allow injured animals to suffer, we need to follow the bloodtrail and finish them off.
Then we could have another go on copyright revision. The last copyright law extended the life of copyright to "life of the author plus seventy years" which is forever for all practical purposes. We ought to set copyright to a flat 17 years. All the serious money that is going to be made is made in the first 17 years. Stretching copyright beyond 17 years is welfare for lawyers, and red tape to overcome for libraries, websites, and people who need one more copy of an out of print work.
If we limited copyright to 17 years, then most music downloading would become legal. I never hear anything but "goldy oldies" on the radio. Few of my children's CD's have any artist that wasn't popular when I was in high school. Most of what is downloaded is older than 17 years, because stuff younger than 17 years mostly sucks.
Then we could look at the Constitution which only empowers Congress "To Promote the progress of Science and the Useful Arts by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries". Not a word about music. Music is not one of the useful arts, it's a fine art. And it certainly isn't a science. In short, the plain language of the Constitution does not allow copyright on music at all.
Losing copyright on music would infuriate the RIAA and the labels, but it wouldn't make much difference to the artists, who mostly survive by doing live gigs for cash. Few of them get much royalties from the labels. In fact the labels have been suffocating the artists, which is why there is so little good new music out there. We would have more good new music if we didn't have the labels.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Maybe we can get union guys to vote Republican?

Obama put the kibosh on the Keystone XL pipe line yesterday. This was a privately financed shovel ready big project that would employ thousands of dues paying union members, give us oil from a friendly neighboring country, and keep the price of my furnace oil down.
Obama claims he needed more time to "evaluate" the project. The paper work has been in for two years already. Then he claimed that a piece of Nebraska prairie was "ecologically sensitive". This bit of prairie already has 25,000 miles of pipe buried in it, but for Obama a few more miles was unthinkable. Pipelines are the cleanest, safest, most accident free way of bringing in the oil that fuels the country. Without the pipeline, the same oil comes in by tanker, and tanker accidents are really messy. There has never been a pipeline accident as bad as Exxon Valdez.
In a way, this might help elect a Republican president. Union guys have been known to vote Republican now and then. Where as the lefty greenies who want to stop the pipeline would cut off their fingers before pulling the voting machine lever for anything but Democrats.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MilSpec Semiconductors, Tax payer ripoff.

Defense Department procurement weenies insist that all military electronics be built with MilSpec semiconductors. Which cost ten times as much as commercial semiconductors. Are MilSpec semiconductors better than commercial semiconductors? No.
Many years ago I was on the design team for the anti ballistic missile radar at Raytheon. We were doing a big phased array radar for Mech Island in the Pacific. The contract called for a "brassboard" radar to be built and tested at the factory, and a second "deliverable" radar to go to Mech Island. To save money we built the "brassboard" using commercial semiconductors. We got the brass board working, and past the government acceptance tests. Then we started construction of the deliverable. Same circuit boards, same technicians, in the same shops, to the same drawings but all the semiconductors were MilSpec instead of commercial.
The deliverable didn't work. Argh. Trouble shooting revealed that the MilSpec semiconductors had lower gain, higher leakage, and could not withstand as much voltage as the commercial devices. It was so bad that we had to redesign some of the circuits to make them perform when built with lower quality MilSpec transistors.
Not only were the MilSpec devices lower performance, they had a lot of duds. I can remember going thru a brand new box of JAN2N5109TX transistors with a Simpson 260 meter and finding one in ten devices didn't work at all. That's 10 percent duds. For this we paid ten times the price of good commercial parts.
And, turns out, a fair number of MilSpec devices are counterfeit. The scammer buys good commercial parts, wipes off the commercial marking with solvent, and repaints the devices with the JAN-TX markings. Presto, chango, we turn honest commercial devices into pricey MilSpec devices. Several cases of this made the news over the years. In the last case, the defense department admitted that the counterfeit devices were as good as MilSpec and they had no intention of recalling the equipment (some of which was in outer space in satellites) to replace the counterfeits.
We could save defense money by scrapping the whole MilSpec semiconductor "thing" (boondoggle actually). Semiconductors never wear out. If the system powers up and runs and makes it thru high and low temperature testing, the semiconductors are good and will last forever.
It ain't like it was with vacuum tubes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nearly all 4200 passengers & crew got off safely

We should be thankful that so few died in such an enormous sinking. The survivors on TV speak of confusion and ignoble actions, but in the end, they got nearly everyone off alive. Not too shabby.

It's warmed up.

We have 25 above this morning. A LOT warmer than yesterday's four below.

Words of the Chuckleheads

Been hearing a few. "The ship was evacuated" (referring to the Italian liner sinking) You abandon ship, you don't evacuate it. Ships don't "crash" they sink. Aircraft crash, but not ocean liners.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chuckleheads on TV News

Just heard one on Fox. He was saying, "We don't get our oil from the Persian Gulf, so we can let the Iranians close the Straits of Hormuz and it won't make any difference to us."
Right. That's a chucklehead. Of the brain dead variety.
The people that do get their oil from the Persian Gulf will do anything to keep their houses heated and their motor vehicles running. They will start buying oil from all over the world. Suppliers all over the world will start rationing by price, i.e. they raise the price to reduce demand to what they can supply.
$200 a barrel oil. $10 a gallon gasoline and furnace oil. We can't afford that.

We can keep the straits of Hormuz open. The Navy will have no trouble sinking anything Iranian that floats or flies. For good measure they can take out Iranian nuclear facilities and anything else of enough value to be worth the cost of flying the mission against it. The Straits of Hormuz are an international waterway which makes it just like the high seas. Interfering with shipping on the high seas is an act of war, and has been since Thomas Jefferson's time.

Words of the Weasel Part 25

Impact, used as a verb. On NPR this morning "The tornado impacted Joplin Missouri". Proper English is "The tornado hit (or struck) Joplin Missouri".
Impact is a noun (the impact of a bullet) or a condition of teeth (the dentist extracted four impacted wisdom teeth.)
Bureaucrats love "impacted" because it sounds so benign. "The regulations impact business" sounds so much better than "The regulations hurt business."
I dislike people who say "impacted". I figure they are attempting to conceal something unpleasant from me. The common word for people like that is "liar".

It's still COLD

It's four below zero F this morning. Colder than yesterday. If I have four below up here, then it will be 8 below down in the valley. Fortunately the cars have gotten much better at starting in cold weather and my car is snug in my garage where it's always 20 degrees warmer than outside.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Federal Flood Insurance

Way back when private companies used to sell flood insurance. After loosing barrels of money, private companies stopping writing flood insurance and changed home owner's insurance to exclude flood damage. Floods are not insurable because they are predictable. Any place that flooded in the past is bound to flood again in the future. Since the hazard is predictable, only people in flood prone areas buy flood insurance. People with hilltop lots don't buy. This results in a situation where EVERY policy holder is going to make a claim. Nobody can afford that. And so no private company will write flood insurance.
This resulted in a hue and cry from waterfront voters for the government to do something. And so Uncle Sam offers flood insurance. And looses barrels of money doing so. Tax money paid by everybody is going to rebuild the property of the few.
Truly we ought to get Uncle out the the flood insurance business. Unfortunately we don't have the votes to do that.
What might work, is a "one-flood" policy. Once property suffers a serious flood, Uncle pays off and then refuses to renew the policy on that property for ever. The owners get paid once, but if they rebuild in the same flood prone place, they do it at their own risk. They ought to rebuild on higher ground so they won't need flood insurance.
Keep this up for long enough, and we won't be insuring flood prone construction and reconstruction.

It's COLD today

Thermometer read zero F this morning. It's 11 oclock and it still reads zero.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Taking down the Christmas Tree

Well, you gotta do it sooner or later. But taking it down is never as much fun as putting it up. Then there is the "which ornament goes in which box" dilemma. I've begun labeling each little box. Then there is a flimsy box problem. The ornament boxes are ultra cheapo with huge cellophane windows and they just sort of disintegrate sitting in the attic waiting for Christmas again. Egg cartons last longer. How do I know? Simple, a fair number of my boxless ornaments now live in old egg cartons, and have been living there for several seasons now.
Then the light people need to sharpen up. The damn things come with a 10 conductor cord thick enough to moor a cabin cruiser. Even though it's tastefully dyed green, it still looks humungous up on the tree. Sort of "Santa comes from PSNH" looking.
Then we have the bubble lights. My grandmother gave us a couple of bubble lights for Christmas back in the dawn of time. We kids loved them. Mother thought they were tacky and plastic and she made them disappear. Years later I see boxes of bubble lights in the store and buy a couple for old time's sake. Trouble is, the lights only bubble when they are straight up and down. The cheapo plastic clips on the sockets are mostly busted off, and this year the lights hung every which way and didn't bubble at all. Next year either no bubble lights or I make some kind of clips (twisted paperclip wire?) to hold them in place.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


They put on a winter storm warning for midnight last night. Things sounded so scary that they cancelled a session of the state legislature in Concord. They predicted three to six inches. So far we got 3/4 of an inch and the snow has let up. The town snow plow went by once.
What they will do for a real snow storm?

Zapped another one

The January version of Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, (MWMSRT) helpfully downloaded by Windows Update, ran and detected a virus. MWMSRT called this fellow "Trojan:Dos/Alureon.E" which is probably Microsoft speak for "It's a Trojan Horse, it doesn't run under any flavor of Windows so we will call it a DOS virus and Alureon.E is it's name.
MWMSRT claimed to have winged it but not killed it dead. MWMSRT recommended I run a regulation anti-virus to get rid of it.
So I did. I have two anti virus programs and I ran them both. Then I reran MWMSRT to make sure Alureon.E was good and dead. No such luck. The slippery little rascal was still in my system.
So I googled for him and turned up a lot of chit and chat. You have to be careful googling on viruses, cause all sorts of Internet slime will offer to fix it for you, just download their program. Avoid those.
There was no clear cut "how-to-kill" posting. There was a hint that Alureon.E hides out in a special 2 megabyte "disk partition".
So for Windows XP, open "Administrative Tools". On my machine "Start->Settings->ControlPanel" gets me there. On your machine it might be different.
Once inside Administrative Tools, click on "Computer Management". Inside Computer Management find "Storage" and under "Storage" click on "Disk Management".
Look at the "Volumes". There ought to be a big one with a name containing "C:" and perhaps second one with a name that corresponds to a disk drive that you recognize from Explorer.
Those are good guys.
The bad guy is a partition with no name and 2 megabyte size. That's where Alureon.E lurks.
Right click on him and delete him.
Presto, Alureon.E is toast and MWMSRT will run clean.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Continental Airlines scores again

The Wall St journal had a front page story about transatlantic airliners making emergency fuel stops at strange locations like Goose Bay Labrador and Iceland. Turns out a certain cheap ass airline has been flying 4100 mile range 757's on transatlantic runs of 3900 miles. Leaving just a few hundred miles of reserve range in the tanks. When the winds are against them, they run out of jet fuel and have to make unscheduled stops in the boondocks. Making the flight VERY late and causing passengers to miss what ever connections they had booked.
In USAF mission planning we were supposed to have enough fuel on board to divert to another airport should the weather get bad at the airport you planned on. Sounds like the airlines are no longer bothering.
And guess which airline is inflicting this inconvenience upon long suffering passengers. My old favorite, Continental. Good thing I have avoided flying Continental for the last 40 years.

Incidentally, you also want to avoid Air-Trans. They are prone to canceling flights for the convenience of the airline. Leaving passengers stuck in the middle of nowhere.

The need for numbers

There's been a bit of talk about the defense budget. Obama and Panetta have been on TV talking about how great our armed forces are. But they gave no numbers.
We ought to know how many regular combat troops we will have. There was a time (WWII) when we had ten million men under arms. That's probably more than we need in the 21st century. But it does seem prudent to have enough regular troops to do down a third world pest hole like Iran or North Korea. Say 140,000, which is what we had in Iraq at one point. When doing the counting, we ought to count regulars separately from reserves. And we only want to count real combat arms, infantry, tankers, gunners, and combat engineers. Public affairs officers, contract administrators, motor pool, logistics, POL, finance, base housing, and MP's are not combat soldiers.
In the case of the Navy and Air Force, the numbers that matter are the number of operational warships and aircraft. Don't count rustbuckets in mothballs or antique aircraft parked at the Davis Monthan boneyard.
There is probably some fat to be trimmed out of the defense department. Parkinson (of Parkinson's law fame) once observed that the Royal Navy back in WWI had a large number of ships and a small number of clerks. By 1960 the navy had half the number of ships and ten times the number of clerks compared to 1914. That's an example of cuttable fat.
Then there is military procurement, so beloved of Congressmen. We could start by burning the 100,000 pages of procurement regulations that just add cost and slow deliveries. Insist that the services go out for competitive bids on EVERYTHING. Don't accept excuses that there isn't time for bidding. Accept bids from close allies like Canada and Britain.
Knock off the gold plate. Buy Jeeps for $22k instead of Hummers for $60K. Buy off-the-shelf equipment rather than design special stuff at extra cost.

So what does it all mean? NH Primary that is

Well, it certainly puts more air into Romney's balloon. And that's a good thing. So says Captain Obvious.
Just as good, it takes a lot of air out of Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. Both of whom would IMHO be disastrous GOP candidates, easily beaten by Obama.
Too bad Ron Paul is still flying fairly high. The TV pundits all dismiss Paul saying "he could never get the nomination." I hope they are right, but I don't see what makes the pundits so sure. This is a democracy, votes are votes, and Paul has a goodly number of them. He sure has a lot of yard signs out up here.
The opposition started whacking Romney about his days at Bain Capital. Bain is venture capital/private equity and their business was investing in shaky companies hoping to turn a flake into a winner. Sometimes Bain won it's bets and sometimes it lost them. Romney should be saying something like, "At Bain we financed this winner and that winner and this other winner and today they are all in business, employing this many people, people who would be out looking for work if we hadn't financed the company that employs them today. Sure we had some losers that didn't work out, but our winners employ far more people than the losers laid off. "

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The NH primary day finally arrives

So I got up and rolled down three mile hill to vote. Town Hall was open for business, polls open. I faced 30 choices for Republican president, most of whom I had never heard of. Chatted with a number of friends and acquaintances about the surprising lack of poll watchers. There was nobody out in front waving signs for any candidate. Possibly the so-so weather (30 degrees and threatening snow) drove them off, or perhaps the great excitement with this primary exists mostly in the minds of the newsies. Or perhaps we voters aren't really very fond of any candidate, certainly not fond enough to stand out in the cold all day.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fix for Microsoft and/or Windows update.

If Windows or Microsoft update stops working, it may be that wuaueng.dll has been "deactivated".
You can "re activate" same by typing this command into the Run window on the Start menu:

  • It works for me. I found this gem on the Microsoft Web site here:


    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Broadband dies

    Yesterday I powered up trusty desktop and oops, "Network Cable disconnected" said Windows, and sure enough, no Internet. I looked in the rats nest of cables behind the computer, and the network cable was plugged in and the green LED was glowing. Huh? How come Windows says the cable is unplugged when the LED says it is plugged in?
    So I wiggled some cables and started up the hardware troubleshooter program and bingo, the cable became connected, Internet returned, and I could read my email. This lasted for about an hour and then that pesky cable popped out and the Internet went away.
    After a while the urge to get on line became irresistible. Maybe it's something wrong with trusty disktop? I pulled antique laptop out of its carry case, unpacked, unrolled, and plugged in the power pack and the mouse, and booted antique up. She was unable to find the house wireless router signal. Argh. Must be something wrong with the broadband.
    Maybe that flaky router is finally dying? Router will lock up and refuse to connect until it gets "reset" actually I pull his plug out of the wall for the count of ten, then plug him in again. And, believe it or not, I have a spare router, just lying around the house. So I swap out the router, see the new router's LEDS light up, and go back up stairs to my computer farm. No luck. No Internet.
    Well maybe Comcast is down? That happens now and then. So the rest of the day goes by, I go to bed, and next morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed, I try for Internet. No dice. Windows still thinks the cable is unplugged. Just to be sure I look at the cable again, it's plugged in, but the LED that was glowing green the day before is out. I inspect the router, and notice, the router ain't showing any lights either. I check the wall wart that powers the router and AHAH, it ain't giving out 12 volts like it ought to. It's showing a measly 2.46 volts DC on my new-to-me B&K DMM.
    I rummage in my junk box, and wonder of wonders, I have another 12 volt wall wart, and it still works. And the plug matches! So I put the backup wall wart to work, and lo and behold, Internet returns.
    Anyhow, that's why no post on Saturday. (Is that a Harry Potter line?)

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Polyanna rides again

    Yesterday we had Obama and Panetta on TV talking about the defense budget. To listen to them, you would never think that they were planning to cut same. They talked about adequacy of the armed forces, leanness and meanness, retention of veterans, upward and onward. Sounded like everything was going to get better and better.
    No talk about how much defense we were giving up. Like how many combat soldiers, tanks, aircraft, and Navy ships the US would have this coming year. For extra credit they could tell us how many we had last year. Nor did they mention the number of dollars involved. Chalk this up partly to the general innumeracy of the chattering classes, and largely to a desire to conceal the size of the armed forces under Obama's new regime.
    Citizens who bothered to listen to this drivel learned nothing worth learning.

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Science Fiction Project canceled

    USAF's Airborne Laser project, a Boeing 747 filled with a multi megawatt chemical laser was supposed to by able to zap enemy ICBM's as they cleared the silo. It was supposed to have enough range to loiter over South Korea and zap North Korean missiles launching out of North Korea.
    The project has been going for 16 years, and has consumed $5 billion. Which is a lot of money for a single aircraft. In testing, a few missiles were zapped out of the air, and more were tracked.
    Lets hope we obtained $5 billion worth of technological advancements, 'cause we certainly did not obtain a working weapon system for all that spending.

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Innumeracy by the newsie's

    Was up early and on the road by 5:30 AM this morning. The car radio was full of Iowa caucus stories. At 5:30 we heard that Romney "won" by 8 votes. And that Santorum was number 2 with just about as many votes as Romney. It wasn't until 8:30 that NHPR finally broke down and told us how many votes Ron Paul got. Three hours of listening to reporter's drivel before we get a real number.
    Then, at least twice, I hear some pundit say "Well, Iowa is full of evangelical voters but New Hampshire is different." Yeah right. Come up my way and I'll show you a humungous bunch of very conservative voters.

    No Fly List

    Continental Airlines has been on my no fly list for 40 years. I was on a Continental charter to go to Viet Nam back during the war. The plane got as far as Hawaii and made a fuel stop. Then it took off and climbed up to altitude. A few minutes later the captain came on the PA system to announce that something was broken and he was turning back to Hawaii for repairs. And a few minutes after that, the captain came back on the PA system to announce that what ever it was has got well and he was going to press on. I haven’t flown Continental since.

    Youngest son is flying to DC and now that we can all book out own flights, he books an 8:30 Continental out of Manchester for DC. So we get on the road in the pitch darkness of 5:30 AM and get to the airport on time. Just in time to find out that Continental had cancelled the flight. “Weather” they said. It was a beautiful clear morning, and the day before had been nice too. If Continental won’t fly in that kind of weather they are Class I wimps.

    So they get the boy onto a US Air flight that doesn’t leave til 11:30, has a layover in Philadelphia and doesn’t get into DC until 4 PM. If you have time to spare, go by air.

    Anyhow Continental is still on my no fly list.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Nuclear Iran

    We really don't want the Iranians to get the bomb. Even if they don't nuke Israel immediately, it will terrify all the other middle east countries, pushing them to start their own nuclear programs, and it will make it impossible to employ conventional military means to do a regime change. Driving tanks into a nuclear power is very dangerous, they might nuke your capital.
    What to do? Diplomacy is a waste of time, the Iranians are bound and determined to get nukes and not amount of talking will change that. Air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities might not work and they will certainly strengthen the regime and its determination.
    There might be a third way. This suggests that the Iranian regime has powerful internal enemies. Surely there is something we could do to help them along. Money, web access, passports, explosives, prepaid cell phones, computer viruses, you name it, we have it. Come to think of it, the Iranians have been having a bunch of serious industrial accidents. Perhaps the Green party has a hand in that.
    If we are doing useful work in this area, I hope our leaky CIA and State Dept can keep it secret. A news headline "Iranian Green Party is CIA catspaw" would wreck the whole thing.

    Monday, January 2, 2012


    Damn, Iowa is all the TV news is talking about. Must be the only thing that isn't happening in the US of A. And all they have to talk about is the poll results (changing now and then) and their hopes of the future.
    Well, I have some hopes too. I hope the GOP's most electable candidate wins. That ought to be Mitt Romney. Trouble with Mitt is, he never says anything, no promises to fix what's broken, stop the federal gravy train, repeal job killing bureaucratic regulation, nothing substantive. Mitt has learned that saying anything substantive just makes you enemies, never friends. For any policy issue there are people on both sides. Take a stand, and the people on the other side become your mortal enemies, the people on your side pay little attention. So the safe and election winning strategy is to say nothing at all, except perhaps to declare yourself in favor of motherhood and apple pie. Romney has been that way thru out this primary. It seems to be working for him, but it's hard to get excited about him.
    Here's hoping Iowa votes for Mitt.

    New Year's

    I refrained from making any New Year's resolutions. I shall also refrain from commenting upon the year just past except to say "bummer". I shall refrain from predictions about the year to come.
    I do have some New Year's wishes, but they are just wishes, not predictions. And I'll keep them to myself.

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    True Grit II

    Watched the Netflix DVD last night. It's really good. I didn't expect a remake of a classic to be much at all. This one is. Hailee Steinfeld plays Matty Ross and does an amazing job, especially as she is only 14 herself, just what the role calls for. I would have guessed her to be older, say 18 or so. I will look for her in future movies. Jeff Bridges plays Rooster Cogburn. His Rooster is more disreputable than John Wayne's Rooster. Long gray beard, uncut hair, generally scruffy look, drinks harder. The other parts in this movie, Matty and Laboeuf, get better roles than they did in the original, which was a John Wayne vehicle and focused on the Rooster Cogburn role. The bad guys, Tom Cheny and Ned Pepper are not as well played as they were in the original. Lots of the dialog is unchanged, I assume it comes from the book, which I never read.