Friday, June 29, 2012

Inconspicuous Consumption vs Great Depression 2.0

They used to rave on and on about unchecked consumerism. Vance Packard with The Wastemakers.  My mother used to grumble about how commercial Christmas had become. Keeping up with the Joneses.  Buying a new Detroit car every three years.  Well, that unchecked consumerism used to provide 70% of the American  Gross National Product.
    Fast forward to the 2010's.  That new Detroit car will last to 150,000 miles and is still looking pretty nice and new after 6 years on the road.  My father used to trade every 3 years just before the rust came thru the rocker panels.  I can remember all of those family cars after all these years.  Me, I still bought new, but kept them for 6 years.  Modern galvanized rocker panels don't rust out.  Yearly auto sales peaked at 17 million back in '05 and have dropped off to 10 million today.   Not even teenagers buy new clothes anymore.  Take a look at your high school students.  Urban grunge is the style today.  The baggy layered look helps conceal the muffin tops.  Two of my three children don't even own cars. 
    In short, Americans are consuming less, durable goods are more durable,  the hot new electronic toys are fairly cheap and as consumer demand drops off,  so does employment. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Winter's Bone

After seeing  Hunger Games, I  netflixed this one 'cause it had Jennifer Lawrence starring in it.  I watched the first half hour or so and then I couldn't take anymore.  The poverty and misery in which Ree is living is just too deep for me to suffer thru it.  I couldn't watch another hour or so of this kind of misery.  I turned it off and went to bed.
   I'm sure Jennifer did a fine job of acting but I watch movies for entertainment and relaxation, not to have all the misery of the world played out in my living room.  That is neither entertaining nor relaxing.


They are discussing the few congressional democrats who are going to vote Holder in contempt of Congress. Bob Beckel (on Fox Five) opines that these democrats are deserting their party only because their districts are full of Republicans and NRA members.  True blue democrats would never yield to threats from their voters.  Caving to the will of the district is despicable.
    I got news for you Bob baby.  Those districts elected those guys and the districts have every right to to expect their reps to vote their way.  That's what reps are supposed to do, represent their districts.  That's democracy.  Party loyalty is never supposed to over ride the duty to your own voters.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Game of Thrones

Well, I got to the end of Season I, including the last episode where the 'net buzz has it that they used a George W. Bush head on a spike in place of Lord Eddart Stark (Sean Bean).  I watched closely but I didn't think the head on the spike looked much like anybody, not Bush, not Sean Bean.  I enjoyed it.  Lots of cool costumes and neat sets.  Lots of scantily clad women.  Good thing we got cable now.  The FCC would have had a conniption over several juicy scenes. 
   It's dark.  There are a lot of really rotten bad guys, and none of them have gotten their just deserts yet.  Good guys have taken some hits.  Young Bran Stark pushed out a 5th floor window by Jaime Lannister.  Sansa Stark  has her pet dire wolf killed and winds up a captive at the mercy of boy king Joffrey "Baratheon" (actually Joffrey is a Lannister bastard.  Eddart Stark beheaded for treason in the public square. Grim stuff. 
   Guess I have to wait a while before Season 2 makes it to Netflix.  My cable doesn't carry HBO.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Going to the national convention always used to be a big deal.  Everyone wants to go.  Hell, even my mother got to go to the national Republican convention one year. 
Now we are hearing that a number of heavy duty democrats are NOT going to the convention in Charlotte.  Claire McCaskell from Missouri is the latest "I'm not going" announcement.
Hmm.  Not a good sign for Obama when politicians avoid his convention.

The Diane Whines Show

Listened to Diane Rahm on NPR  on the way back from Concord yesterday.  The guests were bewailing the terrible trials of parents, the difficulty of finding daycare, the difficulties of after school care, the unfairness of spending time to care for their children instead of advancing their careers, the difficulties of covering children during spring vacations, and on and on.  All guests agreed that more government assistance was needed to protect the family.  And wasn't it terrible how those Republicans refused to provide for all these deserving  parents.
   Well, speaking as a veteran parent, we experienced all those difficulties, and we coped, one way or another. Improvise, adapt, overcome, it works for parenting as well as for the Marines. We didn't expect government assistance, we expected child rearing to call for some sacrifices on our part.  The emotional rewards of raising a family more than compensated for those sacrifices.
   More government subsidies not required.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gunwalking for Fun and Profit

The Congressional drive to get the documents on Fast and Furious is perfectly legitimate.  We, the voters, thru our Congressmen want to know a few simple things.  Like who set up Fast & Furious, who ran it, and who approved it. 
   After we have the names, we want these idiots fired, black listed and prosecuted.  So far this has not happened.  Then we put their names in US history books, right next to Benedict Arnold.
   That's the best we can do to make sure it never happens again.  
   Giving guns to Mexican drug gangs is :
1. Stupid.
2. Illegal
3. Dangerous. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nutrition Nanny, British style

The Economist is bewailing the effect of Great Depression 2.0 on the British diet.  Sales of organic food is down, sales of fresh meat and fish is down.  Sales of heat-n-eats (TV dinners) are up.  Oh woe is Merry Old England.  Even lower than pub grub is a TV dinner. 
   According to the Economist, many Brits actually like TV dinners, which makes them doubly sinful.  How can we keep all those upper lips stiff eating food that actually tastes good (or at least reasonably OK)?  You have to wonder have well connected the Economist really is.  In America only kids really like TV dinners.  Grownups will eat them, but are less than enthusiastic about them.  I would have thought the Brits would work the same way.


Lotta names been floated on TV for Romney's Veep.  All the names are Republican senators, governors, and US reps.  It would be a shame to waste a good solid vote getting Republican on the office of the vice president.  For instance US rep Ryan does us more good as chairman of the House budget committee than he (or anyone else) could do as VP.  Likewise Sen Marco Rubio, Gov Chris Christy, Gov Bobby Jindal,  are key Republican politicians filling critical offices.  If one of 'em gets pushed into the VP slot, we have opened up that critical office to a democrat, or at best, a less effective Republican. 
    VP isn't all that important (unless the president dies in office).  Let's find some reasonable and competent  second stringer for VP.  Leave the Republican stars in the critical offices they have already.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Advertisement_Yuck #2

Guy pulls up in front of a house in a VW.  Gets out of the car and slams the driver's door.  About 20 kid's toys fall out of the curbside tree and bounce on the sidewalk.  Just to verify things, the guy slams the VW door a second time.  More stuff falls out of the tree, including an orange cat which lands on the VW roof, meows, and scurries away.

Advertisement_Yuck #1

The Geico Gecko meets the Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote.  Geico must have had to pay some serious licencing money, but the result is very funny, at least for old Roadrunner fans.

The Hipping point

Last night I had the FM radio on.  Playing "The Notch" FM 106.something-or-other. They must have call letters but they never bother to say them over the air.  The announcer tells me that I am listening to "The Hippy Radio Show".  Then he says "The situation has reached a Tipping Point."
Tipping Point?  on the Hippy Radio Show.  That oughta be a Hipping Point, if we are remaining true to our themes.
  Of course it's been 50 years since we had any real hip hippies around.  Which goes to show how up-to-date FM radio is way up here in the mountains.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gotta keep all them drones on the payroll

The new, not yet  sworn in, government of Greece has announced that they will not be doing the big layoffs of government  workers that their EU lenders/bailer-outers have demanded.  Good call that.  With the treasury empty and running a serious deficit and nobody will loan them money, it is essential to the life of the Greek republic that we keep every single bureaucrat on the payroll.  The Parthenon would crumble with out every single paper pusher drawing his pay.  And benefits, and pension.
    I haven't heard any response from Angela Merkel.  She is smart enough to understand that getting into a shouting match with Greeks just makes Germany look mean to the rest of the Euros.  There is a lot of Euro ill will toward Germany left over from the 1940's.  
    Wanna bet the next hand out to the Greeks gets delayed some how?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mountain Heat Wave

It's so warm up here that I can leave the windows open all night.  Got up to 80 these last two days.  I hear it got warmer down in the flatlands.

Hewlett Packard DVD+R

I bought a stack of fifty of these babies.   I've burned a lot of them, and had to pitch about five 'cause DeepBurner claimed they were defective and didn't burn right.  That's 10% duds.  Strange, HP has a good rep for  making reliable stuff, and that rep goes back 50 years.  Apparently the suits at HP don't care anymore, and the next pack of DVD's I buy will be from someone else.  Probably Sony.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Foot Shooting for Dummies

Operation Fast and Furious, where BATF allowed better than 1000 guns to walk into Mexico was just a medium duty administration scandal until today.  Congress  subpoenaed  100,000 documents from Dept of Justice and DOJ has been stalling on delivering them.
   Today Obama invoked "Executive Privilege"  to keep those documents secret.  Executive Privilege is a way of keeping information given to the president secret on the theory that the president needs to hear unvarnished truth from his advisers.  If every thing said to the president will appear in the public press, a whole bunch of stuff will never be discussed because it will look bad in the papers.
   So far so good.  But by invoking executive privilege, Obama is saying that he knew about Fast and Furious, something that he has been denying.  Plus, the last president to invoke Executive Privilege in a big way was Richard Nixon in Watergate.  We oldsters remember Watergate, and we remember that Nixon's use of executive privilege was fraudulent.  As soon as Obama tries it, we think Obama is fraudulent too.
   The documents in question are probably embarrassing, they probably will tell which DOJ chucklehead started Fast and Furious, and why.  But even if the disputed documents incriminated Eric Holder, AND showed that Fast and Furious was an attempt to discredit the 2nd Amendment,  Obama could have just thrown Holder under the bus along with Rev. Wright and pressed on.
   Now Obama has told us all that he was in on it, from the beginning.  Not smart.

Windows Speed Tweaks - Zap Indexing Services

Windows XP comes with a resource hogging "Indexing Services".  This sluggish CPU hog builds "indexes" of file contents to speed up searches.  It never sped up anything for me.  To keep the indexes up to date, indexing services constantly "sniffs" the hard drive, looking in files and updating the indexes. I have seen Indexing Services sucking up as much as 25% of CPU time. Your computer will run faster if you kill Indexing Services.
   This can be done from "Add | Remove Programs", a Microsoft applet on the Control Panel.  You get to Control Panel from the Start button.  Do Start, then Settings then Control Panel.
   Add | Remove Programs makes you wait while it builds a list of what's installed.  Once it comes back to life, click on "Add|Remove Windows Components.  This will display a list of  optional Windows bits and pieces.  Uncheck "Indexing Services" and he will be gone.
  While you are in here, any other Windows bit or piece you don't need can be unchecked.  This machine (Antique Laptop) has Fax Services, Management and Monitoring Tools,MSN Explorer, Other Network File and Print Services and Outlook Express unchecked and he runs just fine.  Even if you don't use Internet  Exploder for your browser, you want to keep him around.  Microsoft update (which brings you the latest Windows patches)  only works with Exploder.  No Exploder, no patches.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Selling Natural Gas Powered Cars

That's what the Wall St Journal was doing yesterday.   They mentioned lightly the major problem with the idea, namely the size of the gas tank.  Compressed natural gas (CNG) is less energy dense than gasoline, so the tank will have to be bigger, a lot bigger.  Imagine a 55 gallon oil drum.  And this is holding pressurized gas so the tank has to be a cylinder, none of those tricky shapes that fit into odd nooks and crannies.   I suppose the stylists will be able to do something, but I'm betting a CNG powered car will look odd, with that big cylindrical tank sticking out somewhere. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Roger Clemens Skates

They acquitted Roger Clemens today.  I'm not much of a baseball fan and not much of a Clemens fan, but the guv'mint has no business on the athletic doping war path.  Doesn't matter what Clemens was or was not using, that's not a matter for the courts.  Might be a matter for Major League Baseball, but it isn't a fit matter for the courts.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Should Banks be allowed to Gamble?

Banks are supposed to finance business activity and economic growth.  Make loans to home buyers and car buyers.  Loan to businesses to purchase inventory, build new plants, purchase production equipment.  We all agree that this kind of lending makes the economy grow.
   But if you are a bank with a pile of money, there are other things you can do, things which to my way of thinking are just gambling.  If the bank bets right it makes money.  But no matter how it bets, it does nothing for the economy.  In the gambling department we have commodities trading, foreign exchange trading, playing the stock market, sub prime mortgages, credit default swaps, Greek bonds, mortgage backed securities, and whatever it was that JP Morgan lost $2 billion doing.  That deal was so opaque that even the Wall St Journal hasn't figured it out yet.
  Bankers love to gamble because the return can be very high.  And the risks always seem so small.  A bank can make more money gambling than it can doing 30 year fixed rate mortgages.
   Trouble is, when a big bet goes bad it can wreck the entire world economy.  The current Great Depression 2.0 was triggered by Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac (special purpose government run banks) and some of the stupider Wall St banks got to playing with mortgage backed securities, especially the securities backed with sub prime mortgages.  This bit of gambling caused the economic crash that we still haven't fixed.
   Maybe we should forbid banks from gambling?
Limit banks to doing mortgages and car loans and making loans to real businesses, i.e. businesses that make things, grow things, mine things, sell things, transport things, or furnish telecommunications, gas, and electric power.  No loans to "businesses" that just play the various markets.   No loans to hedge funds or stock brokers or other banks.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I hate to say it, but Obama did something right

His new plan for illegal immigrants under 30.  Any who came here as children, and have kept their noses clean, graduated high school and/or served in the military, we let 'em stay.  at least for a couple of  years. I'm for it.  If you are a kid, and your parents cross the US border bringing you with them,  there is nothing a kid can do about it.  If the kid grows up in America, there is really no place to deport him too with any justice.   We as country are better off with decent young people as citizens, contributing to the legal economy than we are with illegal aliens hunted by Mr. Migra and willing to do almost anything to avoid getting caught.
  For a second point, I strongly believe that anyone who has served in the US military should be granted citizenship upon his honorable discharge from the service.  You cannot find better citizens than veterans, anywhere, anyplace.  For that matter immigrants make the most loyal citizens we have.  The United States needs loyal citizens.  What makes the US a superpower is a large and loyal population, and we need to keep it that way.
  Carping about immigrants taking jobs from citizens is small minded union talk.  We have jobs in America, and we can make more of them.
   Too bad Obama cannot do this kind of thing the right way, by getting a law thru Congress.  It's a measure of how ineffectual Obama is that he didn't propose a law, lobby Congress to pass it, made the needed concessions here and there to get it thru.  He cannot negotiate worth a damn, and after three and a half years few in Congress trust him much.  It's hard to cut a deal with a man you don't trust, 'cause you fear he will welsh on it.  Nobody wants to be taken for a sucker.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Marinade for Chicken

Marinaded chicken thighs in white wine and lemon juice with some Bell's Poultry Seasoning. Gave 'em about any hour and then grilled 'em on the Weber. Did good things for the flavor

Thursday, June 14, 2012

100,000 Documents

That is how much paper DOJ churned out over the Fast & Furious debacle.  That's a scary amount of paper.  Suppose each document takes one hour to write, email, read and backup.  That's 100,000 manhours just to do the paperwork.  One guy works 40 hours in a week, 50 weeks a year.  One man year is then 2000 hours and it takes 50 man years just to do the paperwork, a basic time wasting task.  Want to bet it took less than a couple of man years to walk all those guns? 
  So we have a couple of man years to do something totally stupid, lethal, and illegal, and 50 man years to cover it up, and sweep it under the rug,
  Our tax dollars at work.

U.S. Anti Doping Agency?

Never heard of them before.  Now that they are going after Lance Armstrong, they made the TV news.  Armstrong retired from bike racing some years ago.  Armstrong has denounced them as a spite motivated witch hunt.  Since USADA has no legal powers, it's a trial by public relations.  Armstrong is a household name, and always looked  like a regular guy.  USADA is a no body and will need the strongest of evidence to win their case.  It will be hard for them to convince me that lab work on blood samples three years old means anything. 
   It also depends upon how the media feel about Lance Armstrong.  If they decide they don't like him, they will slant stories against him, which creates a powerful headwind. 

Kelly Ayotte looking and sounding good on TV

Our new senator, Kelly Ayotte has only been in Washington for two years.  But she won some important committee assignments, and has established a useful relationship with the TV news.  She has been on the air repeatedly, commenting upon various matters.  On air she speaks well and knowledgeably.  And she leads the discussion, unlike the usual pol who just responds to the TV  people's questions.
  Good work.
   And Kelly shows up a lot better than Jean Shaheen, our other senator.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Eurovising the Euro Banks

Both the Wall St Journal and the Economist are calling for this.  Right now a Euro bank is chartered . regulated, and insured by a national government.  Some governments do a good job (Germany) and others don't (Greece).  The idea is to create a European Bank Regulator with power to regulate all Euro banks.  This would make banks in shaky countries look stronger and reduce incentives to pull deposits out of shaky countries and put them in Germany.
   Probably not a bad idea, especially if you believe in creating a United States of Europe, which a lot of Euros do.
   Such a Euro Bank Regulator would have a lot of power.  It could set bank capital requirements, set pay of bank officers, set what businesses banks could invest/gamble in.  It would audit bank books and manage a Euro Deposit Insurance Corp.
    Was I a Euro citizen I'd like to know who will run such a thing.  Would this Euro Regulator be answerable to Euro voters?  Or would it be a Brussels bureaucrat appointment deal, with lucky bureaucrats serving for life?
    Of course the Euro's are often oblivious of such issues.  I was in Europe on business back when they were putting the Euro together.  None of the Europeans I chatted with at the time had the slightest  idea of the power of what they were creating, or any interest in who would control it.  None of the Euros understood that the second most important official in America, right behind the president, is the chairman of the Federal Reserve. 
    I guess I'd be a little more enthusiastic about the idea if I thought there was anyone in Europe smart enough to do a good job running it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How long will 100 billion Euros last?

Somebody has volunteered to give/loan/print 100 billion Euros for Spanish banks.  Spain's basic problem is the Spanish government is spending a lot more than it takes in via taxes.  They have been borrowing the shortfall.  Except that nobody will lend the Spanish government any more money, 'cause no body believes they can ever pay it back. 
   This 100 billion goes to Spanish banks, but there is little difference between bank and government.  When the government borrows money, it borrows it from banks.  Spanish banks find it difficult to refuse loans to the Spanish government.  Any right thinking bank surely worries about encounters of the unpleasant kind with bank examiners, taxmen, and stock market regulators if they don't do the patriotic thing and loan their government money.
    So Spain has another 100 billion to keep things running.  How long before it runs out?  A year?  Two years?  Anyone see any signs of Spanish economic reforms that might reduce their deficit?

AdvertiseFail #3

TV ads for a Jetski. They show the happy jet skiers zipping around in blue water.  Then we get to the meat of the ad, brakes.  On a boat?  They show their Jet ski slowing to stop in much less water than competitor jet ski.  Cool.  But why do I care? 
   You slow a boat by putting the prop into reverse and using engine power.  To get into reverse you have to throttle back to idle.  Shifting at full power makes that ugly grinding noise.  Throttling back is likely to make the engine stall, leaving you with NO reverse thrust at all.  I learned many summers ago, never to depend upon reverse thrust being there when you need it.  Approach dock slowly, to avoid ugly bumping sound should reverse not be there. 
   Anyhow, I ain't buying a Jet ski just a cause it excels in reverse thrust.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Adventures in E-books

Favorite Daughter has been raving about the Kindle she received for Christmas.  So, I though I'd see what was out there that could be read on my humble hardware, namely Antique Laptop running Windows XP.   Actually quite a bit.  Ultra tech savvy son was able to find the latest George R.R. Martin "Game of Thrones" novel.  Then I found Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.  Yesterday I Googled for an old E.E. Smith space opera.  It was there, long out of copyright and thus free and legal, complete with cover art and illustrations from the 1920's pulp magazine in which it had first been serialized. 
   Only one small hitch, the file had extension was .EPUB and none of the software on Antique Laptop knew what to do with that.  Googling for .EPUB came up with a history of the breed, and a most helpful post comparing  about 10 different EPUB readers.  Of the reviewer's top picks, one from Adobe required the Adobe flash player to work, the other was a straight Windows program.   I'm not a Flash fan, that program gets patched on a weekly basis, and usually patches break programs.  So I downloaded the Sony Reader, all 40 Mb of it. 
   And it works.  Clicking on the ebook file launches the reader.  Comes up with a nice readable font, and a one button page turner. 
   I suppose I need to go all the way,  download a for pay Kindle E-book and a Kindle reader program.  That's still on my to-do list. 
   Actually,  I prefer reading a paperback to reading on Antique Laptop.  Paperback works in bed, outdoors in bright sunlight.  Antique laptop runs hot, and feel hot and heavy in the lap, where as a paperback is next to weightless. 

President should not check off targets on kill list

Van Jones was on ABC's Sunday talk show with George Stephanopolis making this point.  Jones clearly felt that fingering Al Quada leaders for a drone strike was unconstitutional and we ought to be giving them benefit of due process of law. 
    Since when has due process of law been necessary before the military can shoot at the enemy?   I agree the president of the US shouldn't be doing the targeting.  That's Lt. Colonel work.  Far below the presidential pay grade.
    But it is perfectly moral and legal to kill the enemy leaders.  Much more so than slaughtering enemy grunts who are just following orders.  The leadership that gives the orders is a legitimate target. 

Windows Services Fax Services to Protected Storage

BTW.  Sorry about the format.  This data was originally a spreadsheet.  Converting it to something acceptable to blogger was only partly successful.

Fax Service
The name says it all. Fax sending works in Man
File Replication
Keeps Files updated between multiple file servers
File Server For Macintosh
The name says it all.
FTP Publishing Service
Sends files to clients
Gateway for Netware
Support for obsolete networking protocol
Human Interface Dev. Access
USB keyboards/Mice/Etc
Help And Support
Used for Help&Support center.  Not system critical and can be disabled.
IIS Admin Service
Modify workings of Internet Info Service (IIS)
IMAPI CD-burning COM Service
Drag&Drop CD burn
Indexing Service
Supports fast file finding at expense of slow boot.
Worthless Resource Hog. Use Add/Remove Programs to kill Indexing everywhere.
Internet Authentication Service
Pass word checker for remote clients
Internet Connection Sharing
Small home network sharing of a single internet connection (dialup. DSL, cable modem)
Intersite Messaging
Sends mail from server to server
Ipsec Services
Special Internet Security not widely used. Not system critical and can be safely disabled.
IPSec Policy Agent
Internet Security>
Kerboros Key Dist. Center
Enables user logon via kerborous
License Logging Service
Logs Client access as Licensed or Pirate
Logical Disc Manager
Reports new drive installation. Needed for USB storage devices. Otherwise can be disabled.
 Logical disc Manager Admin Services
Message queueing
? Needed for Com+ WMI, MSMG

Messenger Service
Spam gateway
Net Logon
Processes net logons
Net Meeting Remote Desktop  Share
Supports MS net meeting. Bad security hole
Network Connections
Supports dialup and tcpip connections
Network DDE
Dynamic Data Exchange
Network DDE DSDM
Supports Network DDE
Network Location Awareness
Provides services the computers that share your internet connection (ICS)
 If not using ICS on a home network it may be disabled.
Network Nets Transfer Protocol NNTP
Be a usenet news server
NTLM Security Support Provider
Enables user logon via NTLM
Online Presentation Broadcast
Real Time PowerPoint over the networkl
Performance logs and alerts
Collects performace data from other computers
Plug & Play
Loads hardware drivers. System critical. Do not disable.
Universal plug7Play Host
Device host detect and Upnp support

Print Server for Macintosh
The name says it all.
Print Spooler
background printing
Process Control Service

Protected Storage
Secure storage for cryto keys? System critical do not diable.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tweaking Windows Services.

Services are little programs that Windows runs behind your back.  Some are necessary, many are not.  All of them steal valuable RAM and CPU time.  You can see just what Services are slowing your machine from the Start Menu.  Do Start ->Settings->Control Panel->Administrative Tools->Services.  Services has an icon of meshed gearwheels.
    The services application gives you the name, a brief spiel, "started" and the startup type.  "Started" should be self explanatory.  Startup type "Auto" means load and start this service at boot time, slowing your boot and committing memory to the service even if you never use it.  Beware.  Service Remote Procedure Call (RPC) MUST be set to auto all the time.  Without RPC on auto Windows will fail to boot and the only recovery is to reinstall Windows from CD ROM.  Don't mess with RPC, it bites.
   Startup type "Manual" means Windows will load and start the service only when some program tries to use the service.  Load and start is so fast that putting services to manual doesn't slow anything down.  Setting things to manual makes the machine boot faster.
    Startup type "Disabled" means never load and run the service no matter what.  A number of services are security holes or spam gateways and should be disabled.

    I am posting the service settings that work on my machine (Blackbox), which runs Windows XP Media Center (XP with some add ons to make/fake it into being a digital video recorder).  It's a single machine home machine running by itself (no networking to other machines).   Since the number of services is vast, the service list is long and I'll post it in pieces.
   I was able to get my boot time down to 45 seconds and make Blackbox perceptibly livelier with these service settings.  I thought I'd pass them on.

Tweaking Windows Services Alerter to Fast User Switching

Dstarr Blackbox

Transmits alerts for display by Messenger Services. Spam gateway.
App. Layer Gateway Service
Supports Internet Connection Sharing.  Obsolete.  We use routers now to put multiple computers on one Internet wire.
Application Management
Install applications off the LAN.  Corp IT might want this, but I don’t.
Ati Hot Key Poller
Net rumor says that is a hot key grabber from ATI who makes my video hardware. I never use hotkeys
Media Ctr always ready stuff. Arservice.exe. Keeps hardware alive even after you power it down.
automatic Updates
Visits MS website looking for Windows Patches
Background Intel. Xfer Service
Network files xfer in background for Winupdate
Boot Info. Negotiation Layer BINL
Install Windows over LAN
Certificate Services
X.509 Certificates?
Allows other computers to see the clipboard. I ought to make it “disabled”.
Cluster Service
COM+ Event System
auto Distribution of Com Events
Com+ System Applications
Same as above
Computer Browser
Finds other computers to place into Network Neighhood.  Needed for 2 computer LAN?
Crypto Services
Cypto support to auto update, WinMediaPlay&PNP
Dcom Server Process Launch
Required for RPC. Do not disable
DHCP Client
Obtains dynamic IP address from ISP or router. Needed for all networking
DHCP Server
Furnishes dynanic IP addresses to clients
Distributed File System DFS
Network File shares
Distributed Link Tracking Client
Keeps track of location of files shared over the network
Distributed Link Tracking Server
Provides information to clients to keep track of shared files/
Distributed Transaction Coordinator
Supports Com+ Msg Queueing, SQL file sharing over the network
DNS Client
Needed to convert www.names into IP numbers
DNS Server
Converts Domain Names into IP addresses for clients
Error Reporting Service
Report errors back to Microsoft in Redmond
Event Log
Logs Windows errors to disk. System critical cannot be disabled
Fast User Switch Compatability
Allows login as new user w/o reboot.  I wouldn’t use it even if I had it. 

What is it with Plastic Bags?

First Washington DC "banned" them.  Actually they used the greenie furor to hike prices.  Bags used to be free, now the DC markets charge 5 cents a bag.  PITA.  Now LA is talking about bannng them.
  So what do the greenies have against a simple plastic bag?  I go to the store, the store puts my groceries into plastic bags, I carry the bags to the car.  At home I save all the bags and use them to take my recycling to the "transfer station". (it's not PC to call it the town dump).  What's not to like?

Real Jobs and Government Jobs

Thing to bear in mind.  Real jobs produce real wealth.  Real jobs manufacture stuff, transport stuff, grow stuff, mine stuff, construct stuff.  At quitting time, the real worker goes home knowing that there is a little more wealth in the world than when he came on shift. 
   Government jobs do not create wealth.  Firemen, cops, school teachers, soldiers, and bureaucrats may be necessary, but they don't create wealth.  Their salaries are paid with money taken from the real workers by force of law. At quitting time the government worker goes home knowing that it's five o'clock.
    You hear Obama saying "The private economy is doing OK, it's the government employment that needs help."  and you gotta know the president is talking thru his hat.
    You hear "progressive" economists like Krugman and democratic  politicians decrying the reduction of the government work force as if  government workers were the key to prosperity.  They aren't.
   Prosperity comes from real workers at real jobs.  Euro style bankruptcy comes from  government jobs.

Beast of extreme dampness

Stupid Beast went out yesterday.  Then we had one of those sudden summer thunderstorms.  A real gullywasher cloudburst.  She failed to make it back to the house in time.  After the rain let up, she appeared at the door, wanting IN.  NOW.
   She has somewhere out doors to get out of the rain.  But either she wasn't fast enough to get there in time or it wasn't all that rainproof.  She was wringing wet, fur soaked, leaving wet paw prints on the rug.  I tried to dry her off with a bathtowel, but the towel spooked her (your basic fraidy cat) and she scuttled under a bed, still wet.  Didn't dry off for hours.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Counterfeit MIL SPEC semiconductors

Yet another Aviation Week article on the dangers of counterfeit chips finding their way into US systems such as THAADS anti missile, C-130J transport, Apache and Chinook helicopters.  The article goes on to scary speculation with counterfeit chips might have concealed backdoors allowing an enemy to disable US weapons systems in time of war thru a sneaky internet attack.
   This is largely a self inflicted wound.  The military wants to approve each semiconductor device that goes into a weapons system.  They take so long to approve a device that it is out of production by the time the Pentagon finishes doing the paperwork.  Since the makers can not obtain approved MIL SPEC devices from the OEM manufacturer, instead they deal with a world full of shady wholesalers/distributers,  who for a price, will offer any old MIL SPEC chip you might need.  And  the wholesalers/disti's will find the needed chips anywhere.
    The solution is to require defense contractors to use current production commercial chips from reputable US makers.   A box  of commercial grade chips shipped from the likes of Intel, Analog Devices, Texas Instrument, Micron, Xylinx or Altera will be what the maker says they are.  A shipment of chips from Midnight Semiconductor Supply might be damn near anything , from damn near anywhere. 
   Current production commercial chips are 10 to 100 times more reliable than any kind of  MIL SPEC device.  Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.  Built a brassboard system with commercial devices, it worked fine.  Built the deliverable system with MIL-SPEC devices which were terrible.  A couple of dead devices in every box.  Electrical performance so low that we had to redesign circuits that worked fine with decent commercial devices to work with the cruddy MIL-SPEC devices.

A looming threat

A dock from Japan washed up on an Oregon beach the other day.  It had been washed out to sea by the terrible earthquake and tidal wave that hit Japan last year. USA Today called it a looming threat.
   Wow.  Japan suffered an earthquake, a flood, tens of thousands of deaths, even more still homeless, power shortages, rolling blackouts and radiation leaks.   But one piece of flotsam washing up on a west coast beach is a looming threat. 
   Is not something out of proportion here?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chartres can't borrow money

Yes that Chartres, the one with the famous cathedral in France.  It's the custom of European municipalities to finance public works projects with bank loans, rather then by selling bonds, as is customary in the US.  Chartres (and a lot of other municipalities) are having trouble finding a bank that will make them a loan.  Chartres sent people as far away as China looking for loans. The point of the Wall St Journal piece is that the Euro financial hangup is slowing the European economy.  Perhaps.
   Of course you have to wonder about some of these projects.  Chartres managed to build a really nice water park and a 10 screen movie theater a few years ago with a 500 million Euro loan.  Is it appropriate for government to build recreational facilities? As opposed to letting private enterprise handle it?  Up here in darkest New Hampshire we have some really nice water parks and movie theaters and they are private operations, privately owned, privately operated, and privately financed.

Yet More Presidential Leadership

And Obama wants to hike the minimum wage.  What a great idea.  Would you rather have $10 a hour or unemployment?
   Minimum wage workers are the entry level, the summer worker, the less than diligent, the not very employable.  They are hanging onto their jobs because the little they produce brings in a little more money to the business than their pay and benefits cost the business.  
   Raise the pay and suddenly these workers cost more than they bring in.  And they get laid off. 

Don't get cocky Dept

Going into the Wisconsin recall election, all the polls predicted "Too close to call".   Instead, Scott Walker, the Republicans and the Tea Party scored a 6 to 7% victory,  somewhere between really decent and land slide. 
Right now the national polls call the Obama-Romney race "Too close to call".  Suppose those polls work out like the Wisconsin polls? In that case Romney gets a solid win. 
  Save this warm thought.  But don't count on it.  This is the year to work really really hard on beating Obama.  Any slacking off and he might win.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Innumeracy on NPR

The clock radio came on at the usual time this morning with news that Scott Walker had won in Wisconsin.  That's a good thing, I have been hoping that would happen.
But.  I listened to the same news item repeated three times.  They never did gave the vote totals.   That would require dealing with numbers, something that strikes terror into the hearts of journalism majors.  Part of the story is how much did the winner win by.  Was it a skin of the teeth squeaker, a decent margin, or a landslide?
   This was an important election, said by many to foreshadow outcome of the November presidential election.  Was it just a fear of numbers or was it a bunch of democratic NPR newsies so unhappy about a Republican victory that they decided to conceal an important part of the story?
   Follow up.  I never did heard the vote count on the radio, but the Manchester Union-Leader gave the margin of victory as 6%, which is a solid win.  Not a landslide, but decent.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Is it a typo or a ripoff?

Flemington NJ.  Nice place, I've driven thru it quite a few times on my way to Pennsylvania.  At Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington they are working on reducing hospital caused infections.  They are into housekeeping, scrub everything down to kill off lurking bacteria.  They have a fancy new scanner that can detect  bacteria on doorknobs, bed railings, tray tables, water faucets etc.  They are issuing stronger cleaners and disinfectants, trying to kill nasty bugs like Clostridium difficile and MSRA. 
  Not a bad plan.  Better to kill 'em off with Clorox on the mop than with antibiotics inside patients.
  Then we get to the "hard-to-clean" stuff like computer keyboards.  According to the Wall St. Journal article, Hunterdon is paying $15,000 EACH for washable computer keyboard.
   Wow.  $15,000 for a KEYBOARD!
   Google tells me I can get a washable computer keyboard for $19.99. 
   Either the WSJ has a typo or Hunterdon is getting ripped off big time.

Presidential Leadership

The newsies all agree that we need more of it.  Today we got some.  With the economy well and truly trashed, Europe about to collapse, China entering a recession, the Middle East in chaos, the US deficit out of control, we are getting some presidential leadership.  Obama is leading the charge to pass the "Paycheck Fairness Act", a law requiring equal pay for equal work for women.
    It's a worthy cause I suppose.  But is this what the country needs this year?   Let's hear it for leadership.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What would you say?

High school dropouts.  You have a kid, 16 or 17, wants to drop out of high school.  He has a decent job lined up, construction, or building trades, or factory work or driving a truck. Something with a better future than McDonalds.   He isn't much of an academic, doesn't get into book learning much. 
   Do you say OK?  Or do you insist that he/she sit thru another year or two in class to get a high school diploma? 

Keeping score as you tweak Windows for speed

Windows has many faults.  It's a virus magnet, it's too plump, its flaky and it's slow.  We poor Redmond victims can't do much about the first three items, but we can do something about the the last one.  You can make Windows somewhat less sluggish.  It can be hard to tell if your tweaks are helping or hurting.  You can keep score with  Windows Task Manager. 
    Task Manager is easy to start.  Just hit control-alt-delete and Task Manager will open his window.  He has five tabs, Applications, Processes,Performance and Networking. 
   Applications shows what "real" programs you have running.  A "real" program is one you started with a mouse click, which displays a screen window and has code taking up RAM and CPU run time.  About all the Application window is good for is shutting down applications (End Task in Winspeak)  that have frozen up and no longer respond to mouse or keyboard.
   Processes is a more interesting tab for the tweaker.  Process is Winspeak for any program that takes up RAM and needs CPU time.  All sorts of things take up RAM and CPU time but don't show a screen window.  My Blackbox has 26 processes burdening the hardware.  When he was new from the store he had nearly 50.  The only good process is a dead process.  Any tweaks you can do to shut off unneeded processes will make your machine run faster.  Most processes are actually part of Windows and you can't do anything about them. All the Applications running in the Application Window will also show in the process window.  The code part counts as a (sometimes more than one) process.  Along with the process name, you want to see how much memory each process is using, how much CPU time it uses and how many I/O writes (disk writes) it is doing. 
If these numbers don't show in the process window, click on "View" on the taskbar and then "Select  Columns".  Put a check mark on the properties (there are dozens of properties) that you want to see.   The organized Windows tweaker will keep notes.  Note down the number of processes, and keep track of it. Fewer is better.
  Process window will show any virus you may be blessed with.  As of this writing, anything running will always show up in the process window.  The trick is to identify the virus amid the blizzard of  ordinary processes.  Especially as many virus take the name of perfectly legitimate parts of Windows. 
   The Performance tab  gives score on memory usage.  Physical Memory  Total, is all the real RAM on your system.  Available is what you think it is.  System Cache is used as a disc cache.  Windows keeps recently accessed disk data in the cache on the idea that it might be needed again soon.  It saves a time consuming disk access each the cache hits.  When RAM runs low, windows can reduce the size of cache to make more memory available.  Kernel Memory Total is RAM taken for Windows use and cannot be used by programs.  Any tweak that reduces Kernel Memory Total makes more RAM available to your programs. 

"The Supreme Court has the last word"

Heard just this morning on NHPR.  Speaker was talking about NH and the NH Supreme Court rather than the Federal brand of same.  Must be another well educated journalism school grad.   In the real world, the legislature can always override the court, they can always amend the constitution.  Or just ignore the court ruling.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wall St Journal Worry Warts

Medium length OP-ed piece in the Journal about electric cars.  Ron Adner, from Dartmouth's Tuck school of business opines that electric cars will have poor resale value due to deterioration of the expensive battery over time.  And  that resale value is a crucially important factor in the decision to buy a new car.  And, plugging in zillions of electric cars to recharge will over load the national electric grid and put the lights out all over North America.  Being a professor at the school of business, Mr. Adner suggests a change in business model.  Instead of selling electric cars, he suggests leasing them like cell phones.  That will solve everything.  When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail...
   In the real world these are non problems.  Sure the batteries wear out over time, but so does every other part of a car.  The depreciation on new cars is already so awful that short lived battery packs won't make things much worse. A new car looses half its value the moment you drive it off the dealer's lot.  The NADA blue books show cars depreciate to rock bottom after seven years.  The design goal for battery life on the Chevy Volt was 10 years.  Nobody knows if they achieved that goal, the cars haven't been around for 10 years yet.  So electric car resale value will be much less than what they cost new.  What's new here?
   Then there is the load on the electric grid.  Non-problem.  Demand for electricity drops way down at night when every one goes to bed and turns off the lights and the TV.  Have a timer start the charging after 11 PM.  Mr. ElectricCarOwner gets home at 6 PM and plugs in his car.  It doesn't draw juice until the timer cuts it in after the evening power peak is over.   Electric companies can offer bargain rates to encourage off  peak car charging.
    I'm glad none of my children went to Dartmouth, since they have turkey's like this teaching there.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Trendy Marketeers

"What's Selling Where | Paint colors.  Title of a piece in the Wall St. Journal. They list five trendy sounding colors, complete with color illustrations of each color.  Plus lots of fancy words about the grooviness of each color.
   Trouble is, these forward looking trendy colors are the same dreary light pastels that have been slapped on the walls of Army barracks, gov'mint offices, and tired industrial buildings, for the last 50 years.  Nothing new here, just washed out light blues, greens, and tans. 
  Hint to homeowners.  If you are gonna paint a room, there is a lot to be said for good old landlord white (very light ivory).  It brightens up any room, makes it look larger, and won't clash with wall hangings, rugs, curtains, furniture, or pictures.  If you want to use a strong color on the walls, have your decorating plan well in mind, everything put into the room must either match, or at least harmonize with, the wall color.  Done right, it can be effective, but it's hard to do right, especially on a tight budget.  
 Second hint to homeowners.  Think about wall paper.  It goes up easily, it hides all sorts of really horrible flaws in the walls, and can transform a room.  Wall paper is less demanding than strong monocolors as to matching and harmonizing with the rest of the stuff  you put in the room.

Free Anti virus programs

These are the ones I have used.  All of them are scanners, upon command, or perhaps automatically, they compare files on your disc with a list of known badware/malware, and post big "Gotcha" messages when they find a match.  They all take an hour or so to do your hard drive, and they all wait for you to personally OK zapping a malware file.  Just in case they make a mistake.  Which they never do.  Since new malware is hatched every day, they all have provisions to download updated badware lists.
   Most of them also install "realtime scanners" , programs that load into RAM at boot time and check all incoming stuff (email, email attachments, downloads) for badware,  These scanners slow your system down a lot.  I just removed a couple from my desktop, and the improvement in response is very noticeable and very pleasant.  MicroSoft Security Essentials is the worse offender here.  It slowed Blackbox down so much he was falling behind my typing.  When a 600 Mhz machine with a Gigabyte of RAM cannot keep up with my 10 keystrokes/sec hand typing, something ain't right. Blowing away Microsoft Security essentials fixed things right up.
   I have run all of these antivirus programs within the last few months.  The computers all survived the experience.  They are all free.  They are all fairly easy to run, you download them from the web, run 'em,  and tell 'em to zap everything they find.  None of 'em will find everything.  If faced with a difficult infection, try several of them.  What one misses, another might find.   

MalwareBytes.  A relative newcomer.  As a plus feature, no "realtime scanner".  He just scans the hard drive, once, and doesn't bother you afterwards.  Website BleepingComputer tipped me off to this one.

Spybot Search and Destroy  Been around for a while.  Started out as an anti spybot scanner and broadened out into scanning for most types of malware.  No "realtime scanner", a plus feature in my estimation.

Lavasoft AdAware  Another spybot scanner that has branched out.  Installs its own "realtime scanner" and whines when it finds traces of other antivirus programs on your machine. 

AVG   Another relative newcomer.  Still shaking the code down, but it works and does no harm.
ZoneAlarm.  Started off as a firewall and the latest version includes a disk scanner and a "realtime scanner".

MicroSoft Security Essentials   Fairly new from Redmond.  Effective, is able to block some pesky infections spread from websites.  CPU hog.  Slows your machine a LOT, all the time. Consumes up to 90% of your CPU time.  Difficult to turn off or remove.