Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Little Simple Security Makes an Android Go Further

Android is a strange beast.  

It's produced by Google, an advertising company, so you know that has it's own pluses and minuses. 

It's widely used, and widely rejected since many people get their first experience with Android, are confused and send it back for something like their kid is using. 

It is more configurable than anything Apple produces out of the box for the most part.  My phone announces that "You've Got Post!" by Joanna Lumley whenever my Yahoo email account gets something.  Can't do that without jumping through hoops and installing special software to do that on an iPhone.

It has about the same amount of free software as you would find on an iPad or iPhone.  Plus or Minus.  Roughly.

This is just my personal experience.  I have both Android and iOS here.  I'm currently listening to a Funk and RnB channel on an Android tablet using TuneIn, and that is available on your iPhone or iPad too.  Highly recommended.  In fact I was setting up a Linux Server and wishing TuneIn was there.

It's that new software thing that can be a wrinkle.  With anything with that half eaten Apple logo on the back running iOS, you have one place to get your software, iTunes.  Your software has been analyzed and is therefore expected to be safe from snoops and trojans and viruses.   Although it isn't warranted to be so, it is a pleasant little walled garden that has few of those weeds.

On the other hand, Android is more like a Nature Preserve.  You can install software pretty much from anywhere you like with a few clicks, you can unlock the device, "root" the device to gain full and complete control like a Mad Scientist (Boo!) and generally run wild.  Think "Jailbreaking" on iOS.

I will say that when I had Jailbroke my iPhone, shortly thereafter I installed an app that grabbed hold of the phone and began to do wonderful things for me like serve out spam.  It's unlocked but no longer jailbroke.

Every one of my Android devices are rooted.  It gives me complete control and allows me to use a program called Titanium Backup to completely back every last bit of that device up to a chip.  In fact I spent last night upgrading my tablet in order to have the latest software because it was nagging me to do so.

Am I on that proverbial Tightrope without a Net?  Why hasn't my tablet become a server for Russian Marital Aids?

I am not completely sure but I do practice some very basic security measures.  Those Security Measures are basic and form my safety net.

  • I have a scanner on the thing called "Lookout Security".  It will even tell me where the machine is if lost and completely lock it down if stolen.  There are others, such as Sophos Mobile Security.  Check them both out and see which one is for you.

  • I only install software from the Google Play store.  Think iTunes, but it is all web based.  There's a little shopping bag icon with a couple of abstract triangles that you tap.  Once launched, there goes a half hour as I'm looking for new "toys" and shiny objects to play with.  Amazon also has its own software library.  I'm avoiding that one since there are problems with changing devices using Amazon.

  • I always, let me repeat this, ALWAYS check the reviews on the app.  If there are few reviews or the reviews are all positive I skip the app.  Here is a place it is best to step back and let "the other guy" take the bullet for you by testing the software out first. 

Like I said, Basic.  You can use a tablet just like your laptop, many do.  It just takes a little forethought to make sure that you're doing so safely.  When you're through you can relax, go play, and have a bit of fun with these things and not fret.  After all, making your life easier so you can have fun is what they're all about.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Got a Mac? Time to Upgrade or Else

Don't get me wrong, I have always been one of those PC users that have had a serious case of Mac Envy. 

When Windows was a kludgy mess of crashes and hidden DOS it barely ran.  Meanwhile, Apple computers tended to run and run fairly well with a simple but elegant design.

You must like it in the Windows World since there really isn't that much difference between the current version of Windows and Mac OSX on the surface any more.  Besides we're all running software on the web these days, and the software that sits on the computer is not completely unchallenged.

Of course I am summarizing greatly.  There are some significant design considerations under the hood.  To the end user, the differences are not really all that obvious.

On the other hand, the Mac had a significant problem with it.   The way Apple choses to orphan machines. 

You see an electronic device could conceivably work for decades or more.  There are plenty of antique devices.  There is a point after which they're not supported any more.  You can't get Vacuum Tubes at the corner Drugstore for example.

Things do wear out, and there is a point after which keeping that old machine running simply makes no sense. 

With Computers, they improve them on such a rapid pace that many times it makes sense just to get a new one.  Mind you, I've done quite well using other people's old machines for a very long time.  I would keep a desktop at the cutting edge and a second machine around that typically would be a year or two old.  That machine would be my daily driver and I'd use it to do all those tasks that I would want to bang away at quickly and move on.  The heavy lifting goes on the desktop.  

The desktop is gone now.  My 2 year old machine is sufficient.

That's because I'm running Windows on it.  I expect to be able to get a new version of Windows for this machine and run on until the battery no longer holds a charge or the dog knocks it off the coffee table.   I'll probably use it as a tethered machine to play music after that and squeeze a year more out of it.

That flexibility means that I'll be able to expect that I'll be safe and sound.  I won't be serving out advertisements for a Russian Porn Site or for "marital aids" because someone somewhere decided I wasn't going to be supported.   Sure, software gets dropped in the PC world, but generally you just don't get cut off and left to twist in the wind if you have a PC.

Now, look at the Apple Mac user.  It doesn't profit Apple if you don't upgrade so every so often. They will then make a decision that they will not support the older machines.  After all, those new machines are so Shiny you will just want to run out and get that new shiny object!

I have an old G4 Power Mac that I keep on my desk for "Mac Emergencies" and it hasn't been supported for quite a few years.  I hardly ever use that thing which is a shame because it runs about as fast as I would expect a fairly recent machine to run. 

It is however a security hole.   That is because it hasn't been supported by Apple for all that time.   When they made the change to "normal" Intel hardware like your PC uses, they decided that they would eventually stop supporting that aging beast after the next operating system is put out.  If you want up to date, you have to get a new machine. 

Not by my choice, but theirs.  That physical machine is still running happily, but at this point you really don't want to do too much with it because you may get a virus.

You see this sort of thing is happening right now in the Mac World.  Sure they are beautiful machines but Apple has decided that some not so very old machines won't be supported.  They won't be allowed to upgrade to the latest operating system because they are incapable of running the thing.   In this case it's their transition from 32 to 64 bit architecture. 

Windows is still supporting the older 32 bit machines, but because of the way Microsoft does its support, you won't be cut off from security updates and cause a problem immediately.

Apple has just thrown up a wall and said you're not supported, buy a new one.

More importantly, Apple is also not going to update the older versions of its application software.  The biggest security hole in all of this is their browser, Safari.  The browser will not be supported on the older platforms and security updates will not be issued. 

Browsers are the biggest problem in computing these days since they're used so intensely on so many different sites.  I have gotten "virused" before and I watch extremely closely what I'm doing.  I've had many friends call and ask what to do about a virus.  "Update your scanner, run a full scan, update your computer, and change your passwords" is the basic suggestion.

In this case, Apple users can't do that.  They're locked in on the older computers to an older browser.

The solution in that case is either get a new Mac or get new software.   My suggestion is Windows or Linux.  At least you don't have to give up your shiny hardware because of a design decision.


After all, the browsers on Windows and Linux are being kept up to date.  The biggest security hole is safer there.  The application software like a Browser is being supported by another organization outside of the walled garden of the operating system and hardware vendor.   You're simply safer when control isn't so concentrated. 

That's the definition of a single point of failure.  Now go check your virus scanner and help "mom" get hers checked too.  You'll be happy you did.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Buying Made In China? Read This

For years, Personally I refused to buy anything stamped Made In China.  I started this after the Tienanmen Massacre.  I have changed that behavior to be if there's a choice between made in China and made anywhere else, I'll buy anywhere else. 

Why the change?  It's become almost impossible to buy anything electronic or electrical made anywhere else but China.  When is the last time you saw a TV set made in the US?  That's long gone.

Food is increasingly imported despite that we're able to feed ourselves, perhaps a little too amply.

So while I agree with the sentiment of this article, I recognize that it's almost impossible to follow it completely.  After all, those people who died in Tienanmen Square years ago are still dead. 

The jobs that the 1% have shipped to China so that they can concentrate their wealth more tightly may never come back.  We can protect what we have.   I have nothing against the Chinese people specifically, they didn't steal the jobs, it was the greedy in this country that shipped them overseas.  But there certainly is more than a grain of truth in this posting.
So here we go, and you can thank Velma for this.

August 1st to September 1st

Well over 50 yrs ago I knew a lady who would not buy Christmas gifts if they were made in China. Her daughter will recognize her in the following.

Did y'all see Diane Sawyer's special report? They removed ALL items from a typical, middle class family's home that were not made in the USA .

There was hardly anything left besides the kitchen sink. Literally. During the special they showed truckloads of  items - USA made - being brought in to replace everything  and talked about how to find these items and the difference  in price etc..

It was interesting that Diane said if every American spent just $64 more than normal on USA made items this year, it would create something like 200,000 new jobs!

I was buying food the other day at Walmart and on the label of some products, it said "From China". 

For example, the "Our Family" brand of Mandarin Oranges says right on the can "From China".
I was shocked so for a few more cents I bought the Liberty Gold brand or the Dole since it is from California.

Are we Americans as dumb as we appear --- or --- is it  that we just do not think? The Chinese, knowingly and intentionally, export inferior and even toxic products and dangerous toys and goods to be sold in American markets.

70% of Americans,.. believe that trading privileges afforded to the Chinese should be suspended.

Why do you need the government to suspend trading privileges? You can DO IT YOURSELF, AMERICA !!

Simply look on the bottom of every product you buy, and if  it says 'Made in China ' or 'PRC' (and that now includes Hong Kong), simply choose another product, or none at all. You will be amazed at how dependent you are on Chinese products, and you will be equally amazed at what you can do without.

Who needs plastic eggs to celebrate Easter? If you must have eggs, use real ones and benefit some American farmer.  Easter is just an example. The point is do not wait for the government to act. Just go ahead and assume control on your own.

THINK ABOUT THIS: If 200 million Americans each refuse to  buy just $20 of Chinese goods, that's a billion dollar trade imbalance resolved in our favor...fast!!

Most of the people who have been reading about this matter are planning on implementing this on August 1st and continue it until September 1st. That is only one month of trading losses, but it will hit the Chinese for 1/12th of  the total, or 8%, of their American exports. Then they might have to ask themselves if the benefits of their arrogance and lawlessness were worth it.

Remember, August 1st to September 1st!  START NOW.

Send this to everybody you know. Let's show them that we  are Americans and NOBODY can take us for granted.

If we can't live without cheap Chinese goods for one month  out of our lives,WE DESERVE WHAT WE GET!

Pass it on, America ...

Well, come to think of it, instead of doing it for just 1 month why not try to do it all the time.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

No Speak Da English

Oh Velma, you're at it again.  Here's one about how someone learns how to speak English in Toronto, and order Chicken Parts at the same time!

NO Speak English

A Russian woman married a Canadian gentleman and they lived happily ever after in Toronto. The poor lady was not very proficient in English, but did manage to communicate with her husband. The real problem arose whenever she had to shop for groceries.

One day, she went to the butcher and wanted to buy chicken legs. She didn't know how to put forward her request, so, in desperation, clucked like a chicken and lifted up her skirt to show her thighs. Her butcher got the message and gave her the chicken legs.

Next day she needed to get chicken breasts, again she didn't know how to say it, so she clucked like a chicken and unbuttoned her blouse to show the butcher her breasts. The butcher understood again and gave her some chicken breasts.

On the 3rd day, the poor lady needed to buy sausages. Unable to find a way to communicate this, she brought her husband to the store...

(Please scroll down.) 

What were you thinking?

Her husband speaks English....hellooo!

Now get back to work, or working on the plot for retirement!

I worry about you sometimes!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Testing an Eee PC with Ubuntu and CentOS Linux

I was handed an old Eee PC lately. One of those small netbook things.  I usually describe them as "Barbie's PC".  Personally anything with a keyboard is something better than without, but that's my preference.   Typing on a glass just does not have the feel of clicky or bouncy keys.

It didn't have an operating system.  So very helpful, turn the thing on and it told you that.  I'm assuming that the person who had it didn't want their data to be found, or it was one of the "refurbished" machines you see online. 

So here's what you do when you have a machine that "doesn't work at all".  You know, a dead machine that you want to see if it's intact or it needs to be recycled or you just have a machine with data on it you need to save before you start over.

Download a "Live CD" version of Linux.

They're a full operating system that just runs from the cd or the memory stick that you're using for the purpose.  You'll need at the bare minimum 1GB, but a 4GB stick is the most I have ever needed for the task.

They're an interesting thing.  In Windows and Mac machines, you're wedded to the computer.  With a Live CD and a little dancing, the PC becomes just a box that runs what's on the stick.  The stick doesn't care, it can run on any fairly modern machine.

The thing with these Live CDs is that they're completely independent of what's going on on your machine.  If you're off on vacation, you can have an environment that is tailored to your own use.  I've done that before, brought one with me.  Basically a complete computer on my keyring.  It only touches what is on the PC's hard drive if you go out of your way to do so.

Grabbing the most friendly Live CD, Ubuntu, I managed to get it to the memory stick using the instructions that are found on Ubuntu's site.  Plug that Memory Stick into the little Eee and power the thing on.  

I was presented with the Brown/Orange Ubuntu desktop.  Success.

Running through all the inventory of devices I managed to determine that the machine was complete, functional, intact, and ready for anything else I wanted to do with it.

After playing around and seeing that I was safe, I decided to click the helpful install icon on the desktop and let it go through the motions of a full install.  It worked beautifully.  At least the install did, but I eventually didn't go with Ubuntu for a couple reasons.

The Wifi on the install didn't work well.  I was constantly refreshing web pages that never loaded.  Since we're using computers both on the web and with programs on the hard drive, that wouldn't work.  Driver problems are the biggest problem with Linux.  It just isn't supported as well with "Cutting Edge" hardware.

The other thing is that Ubuntu is butt ugly.  They have something called the Unity Interface which is like having a permanently opened start menu on the left hand of the screen.  I couldn't figure out how to make it hide so I could ignore it.   This is the usual complaint.  I hate it and don't have to use it.

Luckily there are other versions that work as well, if not better in some cases.  For small computers, and older ones like the one that is probably sitting in the back of your closet, you'll want something called "Lubuntu".  Think of "Lightweight Ubuntu".  It uses an interface that looks very much like Windows, and runs blazingly fast because all the programs are the smaller ones.  On the Eee it ran beautifully except it had the same Wifi Problem.  If you don't have an Eee or you want to experiment with drivers, you may get it to work.  I was lazy, I had bandwidth and time.  I took the "Path of Least Resistance".

I eventually ended up installing CentOS which is a full server operating system.  This is the same thing that is running many websites and businesses around the world.  CentOS has a rock solid feel and an enormous amount of support since it is Red Hat Enterprise Linux, almost.  They took Red Hat, removed their branding, and put it out there for everyone to use free and since it is Linux it is all nice and legal.  I've never had a problem with CentOS, in fact since it is Linux, it runs on a very old machine with ease.  I had a 12 year old Pentium 3 laptop that had Centos 3 on it from back in the 1988 or so until it simply up and died one day.  Never had a problem with either CentOS or the ancient laptop at all and it ran as fast as the current hardware, going through update after update.

It just takes knowing what you're doing.  A lot of that experimentation has been removed with the mainstream Windows and Mac OSX.  Running Linux is a much more raw experience but when you have it up and running, it will purr like a kitten for years or even decades.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How To Make Icing for Four Cupcakes

I'm back into Mad Scientist cooking again.

You see I've been rightsizing my recipes.  I'm counting calories since I have no "off switch" around certain foods, especially baked goods.   So if it says that a serving is 200 calories, I tend to make it just a little bit smaller and call it done.

I made four cupcakes today from a mix.  The box said that 1/3 cup of mix would be 200 calories.  So therefore multiply by three and divide by four and you get four perfect 150 calorie cupcakes.

Of course they needed to be iced.

I have a foolproof icing recipe that unfortunately makes way more icing than you want to use at one sitting, or 1/2 the amount of icing you need for a cake.  Surf the internet and see if I can find a simple recipe I can downsize.

Bingo, right on one.  Who knows better than that cake decorating company, Wilton?  The first hit online when I searched was their Buttercream icing recipe.  After doing the math I figured out the recipe below:

All ingredients were done by weight - 1 ounce is 28 grams, 1/2 ounce is 14 grams.  Yes, I did use grams but you don't have to it seemed fairly forgiving but add the milk in "drips and drabs" so you don't get a runny icing.  It's all about the "texture"!  If it looks right, it's done.

  • 1/2 ounce butter (one tablespoon)
  • 1/2 ounce shortening (one tablespoon)
  • 2 ounces confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
Add all ingredients to a large-ish coffee mug.  Mix with a regular fork until smooth.  Use as icing, but chill in refrigerator.

That's it.  It's all a bit Frankenstein's Cake Monster,  but the results were tasty.

You don't have to cut yourself off from good things, just be moderate with them.  Each of those cupcakes were 250 calories a piece.  It helps that I'm eating 2200 calories a day of course.  If you're not at that level, just act accordingly... so enjoy!

I know I did... the icing was excellent, one of the best recipes I have ever stumbled across.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fish Oil and a Special Diet For The Dog

Having an older dog means having to watch over her and make sure you adjust.  When she's been "the same for years" it's a bit of a surprise when you have to change things.

It's just good luck that she seems to like the change.

I'm surprised since I don't like the stuff for myself.

Mrs Dog is going to be 12 in November.  I hadn't realized that it was quite "That Old" until a good friend here, Constance, reminded me that she's going through those changes near the end of her life.

In those words.  It was also a bit of a shock.

After the seizures, she's bounced back.  Those were more then a year or so ago and a year before that.  You wouldn't know she's had them.  Her slowness is just starting to show, and we've now got "Shade Walks" for the 6pm walk.  High summer will melt anyone, and in Florida, you'll see people standing in the shade of a stop light pole instead of out in the sun.  It's what we do here, and why should a dog be any different, especially a mostly black dog.

Yes, she's a solar panel and she wilts in full sun.

We've been quite lucky.  Her breed, the McNab Dog, has not been ruined by popularity, inbreeding, and "fashion".  She's been healthy for the most part, excluding those seizures.  She's eating what she had been when I found her as an adolescent almost 10 years ago, but that's about to change.

See she's "leaking" in the middle of the night and after some tests she's now on antibiotics and will be starting a special diet.  I've been told that some dogs are on a special diet since almost day one.  Most of that is fashion and "affect", but in this case it is prescribed.

Yes, prescribed food.  A "Renal Diet" which is supposedly low protein, high "energy".  I guess it's higher carbohydrate so we'll see how that goes.  She's still got her energy as long as she's not outside soaking up old Sol.

She's also taking nearly as many vitamins as I do.  One of the changes is to add Fish Oil to her diet.   Dogs should take twice as much as humans per pound.   So on top of her food, she gets one golden capsule.   The food has become a production now as well.

One cup dry food, two ounces water, microwave for 20 seconds.  Add 1/2 pill for thyroid, one Glucosamine capsule, and now the Fish Oil.  Luckily she likes all of those.  Glucosamine is sweet, the thyroid is supposed to be just neutral tasting, and the Fish oil...

Ever have a can of Tuna?  Compressed into a pill? 

Now you know why those bottles come in a "Burp Free" variety with an extra thick capsule.   Fish Oil Burps are the worst.  Like someone stuffed a trout down your throat.

Being a Dog, she doesn't find that terrible, yet.  She bites down on that pill filling the kitchen with a faint scent of the sea and chews the daylights out of it.

Mmmm Fishy!

As long as it keeps her around a couple extra years.  I don't mind the effort, and walking behind the shopping center to stay in the shade in High Summer is not terrible.  It's just a bit odd visiting the back of all the shops that people come from all over the world to visit the front of.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

5AM Symphony

The first note is the soprano singing of the crickets.  There is no one else around.  It is still dark, the world is not yet awake.  Even the sun is sleeping somewhere, yet to rise over the islands and the mainland. 

There is the percussive beat of the footfalls of man and dog, the dink of the aluminum tags on each other.  Heading east toward the ocean, they move onward to do their business.

Few stars in the skies, the air is humid and still.  The morning breezes have hours yet to step up and create their own magic when they will lift leaves and butterflies and caress skin and fur reliably.

An undertone from the distant highways drone on.  A bass note from the few that have arisen before the dawn.  Wheels on pavement, motors forming a glissando toward tenor.  The four four beat of a motorcycle is faint but audible.

Clicking of pads on pavement add a bit more to the sound poem.  Crunching of gravel under foot speaks of movement. 

An alto sound of someone's air conditioning compressor firing up joins the mix.  There is a problem with that particular apartment's motor, a metallic grind whining its voice asking for attention.

Moving away from the homes, the crickets fade, sounds become more mechanical and artificial.  Large tires screaming their way over the intersection make a loud deep note as they pass by.  The shushing of a vehicle approaching the few open businesses ready for the morning.  Over the distance there is a thump as a car door is slammed, a chirp of a car alarm, and feet move toward the gym glowing in the predawn gloom.

Returning home, the symphony ends.  Passing by one last schefflera tree, an applause sounds drown out the crickets as the first few morning breezes lift the leaves and clap them together while the palm fronds accompany with a background rustle.   Time to start the day.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Just One Of Those Days to BYOD

Ever have one of those days where everything went kind of "wrong"?

When the Jeep needs new U Joints, it sets you off.  It's out of the ordinary so therefore the psychology is set up so that you are then looking for other oddball things to happen.

Perception.  It's a funny thing.

Shrug it off and move on. 

Actually, being someone who is usually an optimist, I find myself looking at all the oddball things that went wrong over the weekend as an opportunity to clear out some chaff and look for new experiences.  I've even contacted one of the companies that I bought stuff from over the internet about "warranty returns".  Too bad the item was next to free it was so cheap, probably have to "eat" that.

These days, you can find Wifi connections at most places you expect to be sitting for a while.  Writing a blog is a fairly mobile task.  You just need something to write with, gather your thoughts and start typing.  Luckily, these days, you can do that on more than just a beast of a box sitting in the corner of a room called a "Desktop" computer.  Laptop, tablet, or phone, it is your choice.

That is the way things are going with life in general.  Since computers became smaller, then more portable, then commonplace, and finally always connected in some cases, you've become expected to have one with you.  In business that is causing a trend.  Where you were expected to sit at your desk and hammer away at what ever it was that you were paid to do, you also were expected to do it well past the "9 to 5". 

Add to that a trend to "Bring Your Own Device" and you're now told you can go home but bring your machine with you.  It's easier for someone to carry their machine with them when it weighs less than 5 pounds than when it was a 20 pound slab of iron bolted to their desks.   Now that you have that freedom, get out of the office and go home to your new office. 

Just make sure you have your comfy chair set up.

It certainly gives you a new approach to things.   The problem is that just because you're sitting at home, it doesn't mean that you are on your home computer.  That psychological wrinkle is giving management and especially IT Management a headache.   The work computer is on the coffee table, so the tendency is to let family members "borrow it" for a quick surf.

Your Significant Other surfs the web, hits a wrong link, and now your machine has a trojan and is serving out spam for a Russian Bot Net.  Your office will love the window to the outside world that that creates while it is serving out all the confidential documents you've been working on like Financial Documents, Social Security and Health information, and the like.

If you have ever wondered how big companies get their email lists and passwords served out to the world, that is just one scenario.

On the other hand, I'll probably be sitting in that large waiting room all morning in a day or three with my trusty laptop going about my usual duties hooked into their public wifi wondering if I'm serving out my own personal documents because someone else bored who is sitting there is trying to see what else they'll find on this 'foreign' network.

I've got this graphics project that is perfect for this kind of situation.  Sitting in a car showroom is usually fairly boring once you get past the tire kicking.  You settle in, put on the headphones to drown out what ever talking head is on the TV you can't escape, and start banging away.

It also gives you something to hide in when the salesmen start wondering if you're ready for a new shiny object in the driveway.

I had a reputation at the Jeep dealer that was nearest to my house back in Pennsylvania.   I'd bring my laptop with a full charge, park myself in a luxury car, recline in the passenger seat and go to town.  They never understood why I didn't find Judge Judy fascinating.  Usually they'll leave you alone if you have on big headphones.   I'll remember to bring my big black noise cancelling "cans" with the tape on the outside to concentrate the bass.  

Yes, duct tape makes the sound better.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Clever Ideas Worth Knowing

I may have posted this one before, but it was still sitting in my hotmail account waiting for a good time.  After reading it, I found that there were quite a few of these things that I've been doing for a while.

I will say that I do some of these things every day.  The Bananas do ripen slower when you take them apart, and I always ALWAYS reheat my pizza in a skillet.

Oh pizza can be even better that way on the second day!


Take your bananas apart when you get home  from the store. 
If you leave them  connected at the stem, they ripen faster..

Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil.
It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.
Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.

Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef.
It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of  spoonfuls of  sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream in and then beat them  up.

For a cool brownie treat, make brownies as directed. Melt Andes mints in double broiler and pour over warm brownies.  Let set for a wonderful minty frosting.

Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste
Of garlic  and at the end of the recipe if you want a stronger taste of  garlic. 

Leftover snickers bars from Halloween make a delicious dessert.  Simply chop them up with the food chopper. Peel, core and slice a few apples. Place them in a baking dish and sprinkle the chopped candy bars over the apples. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes!!!  Serve alone or with vanilla ice cream. Yummy! 

Reheat  Pizza
Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet  on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat until warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza.

Easy Deviled Eggs
Put cooked egg yolks  in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up.
Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture  into egg.
Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

Expanding  Frosting
When you buy a container of cake  frosting from the store, whip it with your  mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size.
You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per  serving.

Reheating refrigerated bread
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster. 

Newspaper weeds away
Start putting in your plants, work  the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers, put layers around the plants overlapping as you go cover with  mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic they will not get through wet newspapers. 

Broken  Glass
Use a wet cotton  ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass you can't  see easily.

No More Mosquitoes
Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.

Squirrel Away! 
To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne  pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant and the squirrels won't come near it. (Wonder if this works with rabbits?  Sure gonna give it a try)

Flexible  vacuum
To get something out of a heat  register or under the fridge add an empty paper  towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings. 

Reducing Static Cling
Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or  dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose.  Place pin in seam of slacks and ... Ta DA! ... Static is gone.

Measuring Cups
Before you pour sticky substances  into a measuring cup, fill with hot water.
Dump out the hot water, but don't dry cup.  Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

Foggy Windshield?
Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!

Re opening envelopes 
If you seal an  envelope and then realize you forgot to include something  inside, just place your sealed envelope in the  freezer for an hour or two. Voila! It unseals easily. 

Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really  smooth. It's also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like when you tried it  in your hair. 

Goodbye Fruit  Flies
To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take  a small glass, fill it 1/2' with Apple Cider  Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix  well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

Get Rid of Ants
Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it 'home,'  can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a  week or so, especially if it rains, but it  works and you don't have the worry about pets  or small children being harmed!

The heating unit went out on my  dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around  the house for us told us that he wanted to  show us something and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was  clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every  load clothes.) He told us that he wanted to show us something;  he took the filter over to the sink and ran  hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material  .. I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like.  Well ....  the hot water just sat  on top of the mesh! It didn't go through it at all! He told  us that dryer sheets cause a film over that  mesh that's what burns out the heating unit. You can't  SEE the  film, but it's there. It's what is in the dryer r sheets to  make your  clothes soft and static  free ... that nice fragrance too. You know how they can  feel waxy when you take them out of the box  ... well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen. This is also what  causes dryer units to potentially burn your house down with it! He said the best way to keep  your dryer working for a very longtime (and to keep your  electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it  with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush sh (or other brush)  at least every six months. He said  that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long! How  about that!?!  Learn something new  every day! I certainly didn't know dryer sheets would do  that. So, I thought I'd share!

Note:  I went to my dryer and tested my screen by running water on  it. The water ran  through a little bit but  mostly collected all the water in the mesh screen. I washed  it with warm soapy water and a nylon brush  and I had it done in 30 seconds. Then when I rinsed it .. the  water ran right thru the screen! There wasn't any puddling at  all! That repairman knew what he was talking  about!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cell Phones and Gas Stations

I was getting ready to post a message that details the whole story about Shell Oil warnings and gas stations and thought...lets look into it.

Basically, it's "Mostly Safe".

Pump your gas, leave the phone in the car, and you'll be fine.

The one thing you might want to consider is that if you're particularly "Static Prone", to make sure that you discharge your static into something.   Grab a metal pipe or the body of your car and let that static electricity go.

There.  Cleared that one up for you.

So if you would like to follow up on the entire story, you can follow this link.  Just consider the gas station a chance to let your ear rest and relax just a little bit while you discharge your static.

Since I am being so helpful today, I've decided to add a video about something that fascinated me.  Ever have a problem opening a Champagne Cork?  You've heard of people using a Sabre to open one. You know, that longish sword?   Here's how to do it.

Ahh much better.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Windows 8 Preview Hates Netbooks

Microsoft's next operating system, Windows 8, worked poorly out of the box on a netbook.

Ok, yes, that's a lot in one line so let me do what I do well and simplify it all.

First off the Netbook thing.  A while back people were able to buy a teeny laptop with a 7 or 9 inch screen. I called them "Barbie's Computer". They were a great second computer since they were cheap but there were some limitations.  The screens were small, but that was partly because the bottom part of them were "shaved off".  That meant they reduced the resolution from top to bottom by about a quarter. 

The video card inside was locked down in some cases to only be able to put out that one resolution.  The processor was a slowish for the time "Atom" processor and they came out with low memory.  1GB of memory and 160GB hard disc.   For a casual machine they were great, but they were limited. 

Those limitations meant that they were using "Starter" editions of Windows which removed functions in order to make them run faster.   They would also run Linux which might be better suited for the computer but fewer people have experience with Linux so it would scare off "Mom and Pop".

These days the Netbook "category" is being replaced by tablets like the iPad and Android Tablets.  They do the job of the casual machine quite well, in fact they can replace the need for a computer for easily 90% of the people out there.

Next, Windows 8.  The version I tested was what they call "Windows 8 Release Preview".  Microsoft have put the next operating system out so that you can download it and test it out on a computer. If you have a spare, great, have fun, but absolutely not for the "daily driver" or your critically important machine since you may lose your data and the operating system is set to "die" some time after Windows 8 actually ships in October 2012.

Really quite generous of them.  But don't do it on your main computer.   If you are curious and download it and lose your data, well its on you.  That being said, you can find the link for download at the end of the article so you can see it for yourself.  Please be careful, I care for my readers, now be a good person and read on before you jump to the end and download.

Windows 8 is a game changer.  It is Microsoft's way of bringing the tablet to the PC by changing the familiar Start Button to a square mosaic of tiles.   Click on that and you go to the Home Screen.  Home Screen looks like you handed a child some colored construction paper and a white paint pen, told them to cut up some rectangles and write words on it.  I personally find it ugly but I have been told that it can be animated and set to put information like your weather app does on your phone or tablet. 

I say "I have been told" because I wasn't able to use any of the apps that are installed on the machine.  You see, I went and installed it on an Eee PC, a Netbook which is clearly not up to the task because of that graphics issue.

Every time I clicked on one of the bits of construction paper, I got a message saying that I needed to change the graphics on the computer and that the app would not run.

Sorry, try again.

I did, and most of the apps that were there were tried.  I got frustrated after I found that Internet Explorer and the Desktop worked, I could explore the files on the computer but that was about it.  Since I can surf just about everywhere these days, I ended the experiment.

It clearly is not designed for a Netbook.   Netbooks are getting a bit long in the tooth at this point, and if you find one in the stores you are finding "New Old Stock" that has been leftover when most folks went and bought a tablet instead. 

Windows 8 is designed for "regular" PCs that ideally have a touch screen.  Desktop or Laptop.  You'll do fine there, but that little netbook that you were hoping to bring along into the future may be stuck where you are at now.  It's getting older anyway and may only have another year or three left in it but at this point not with Windows 8.  After all, this was a Preview edition and will change before October's release.

It did run, did not crash on me, but I was so frustrated by the experience that I started installing Linux on it so it can be used as a PC for the user instead of a paperweight.

Sometimes you try something for a client who admits it may be the wrong thing to try but "hey it will be fun".  Like slapping a V8 in an old VW Beetle, sometimes its just not worth the trouble.

If I come across another machine that is more "normal" then I'll try Windows 8 again.  On the right machine I am sure it will be a wonderful experience.  It shows promise, if I can get past the rounded scissors home screen.  They call it Metro, I call it Art Class in Second Grade.  Maybe I can make it look like Windows 7... Hmmmm...

If you really do want to try the new Windows 8, and remember you do NOT want this yet on your main computer because you probably will lose your data on that machine, you can follow the link below.  At Your Own Risk.   It does work reasonably well but you do not want to use it as your daily driver.   As Microsoft says:

Note before you download: Windows 8 Release Preview is prerelease software that may be substantially modified before it’s commercially released. Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here. Some product features and functionality may require additional hardware or software.
Link is at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/download

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Firefox 14.0.1 is Available for Upgrade

Go.  Fetch.  You can find it here.

Oh you came here for what passes for Witty Banter and Background Info?

Ok, here goes.  This morning I found the upgrade box pop up on my window asking me if I wanted to download and upgrade.  The timing was perfect, it wasn't yet 7AM and I had to finish my first mug of coffee.  Clicking on the link, it did its thing.   When through it asked did you want to restart now or later.  I restarted.

Since then I've gone through my normal morning routine.  I've been through about 150 web pages.

My opinion is that it is faster and more stable than the last version.  Worth the upgrade.  In fact the upgrade even reloaded the 30 or so tabs that I keep open on a daily basis.  The only quirk was that it brought up the Spanish version of Google Sites documentation on Not For Profit Web Hosting.   I probably clicked on a link and didn't realize it.

The old version would load pages from the top left corner of the browser and paint in a diagonal, ending at the lower right corner.  I would notice a video affect that would show up as a curtain effect of blocks that painted very quickly on my little laptop.   It isn't there any more on this version.  It also feels faster and more stable.

To find out if your Firefox needs the upgrade:
  • Open or Launch Firefox
  • Click Help
  • Click About Firefox
  • Under the big word "Firefox" it will have your version number, it should be 14.0.1 (or newer).  If not you can upgrade.
  • Under that you will see whether you have the latest with the sentence "Firefox is up to date".   No period.  Tsk.
Want some more from me?  Ok, watch this safe for work video.  Have fun. It is a slinky on a treadmill.

Oh Come ON!  You know you want to try that don't you?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

You Can Teach Sign Language to a Dog

You really can teach an old dog new tricks.

My own Lettie is pushing 12, has her moments where she's stiff and moves slowly.  Her hearing is diminished, and there are days where I think she's just completely deaf.  Other days there's a little more hearing than others.  I suspect it's all connected to her age and thyroid meds.  I also suspect its her just saying "today I need a day off for good behavior".

I've always taken the attitude that she's a highly intelligent dog, being a McNab Dog.  Think of a Border Collie that is more mellow and smarter than average, but a McNab is really it's own distinct breed.  We sometimes call her Stealth Dog because she hardly ever barks unless something is truly exceptional.

Since she's so intelligent I thought teaching tricks is kind of a waste. We would teach my canine prodigy complex behaviors like "Go Home".  Go Home was when we'd get about a mile from the house.  She's never gotten lost although she tends to take her own time getting there.

Another thing that I started doing from the beginning was to try to associate hand signals with those commands.  Some worked better than others.  Yes, Sign Language for a dog works, and if your dog still has hearing it is the best time to do it.  Start early and you'll be ahead of the game.

Besides, English is not a dog's first language.

One of the more useful behaviors was the "Show Me".  Show Me would give her the option of telling me what SHE wanted and I would follow through.  It's not always food or cookie, sometimes it's walk or yard.  Since the leash is in a bowl on the dryer in the laundry room and has been since we moved into the place six years ago, if she wants a walk, she will lead me to it.

Show me is now hands held out to the side and palms up. 

She's training me to be quieter which is an amazing challenge in itself.  It is a bit of a shame because I found I tend to talk to her when I'm out walking.  She hasn't responded in kind but she used to listen because she'd look up from time to time and give that smile that dogs do.

It also is making her a bit more frustrated.  Since I tend to wander around the house, she may not hear me get up.  That's when she shows me she still knows how to herd since she is looking for the stray by performing a perimeter search until found.

We're having a bit of work done on the property and since I saw the truck drive off, I went out to have a quick go at what's been achieved.  Happily I walked back into the house to two worried brown eyes coming around the corner at a trot.  The one that got away has returned and the herd is intact.  From the side of the house I was at, she could not see me through the porthole and was shuffling from room to room sniffing and trying to crane her head to see if she could spot me.

If you're around town and you see some guy gesturing to his dog, say hi, it may just be me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Giving My Phone Some DNA

One of the biggest nuisances that we get to "enjoy" on a regular basis are junk phone calls.

In the US you can surf http://www.donotcall.gov and put your phone number on that list.  It was the first thing I did when I got my current phone number and it cut the number of calls down greatly. 

That sort of thing helps a lot when you have a generic number that looks like a business or one that has repeating digits.  A lot of people will put down a bad phone number on a survey instead of saying right out "No, I really don't want you calling me".  If you have that number, you're going to get called, just like I do.

I did notice that I tend to get them from certain specific phone numbers.  I call them a number of things but you can call them my Repeat Offenders or my Spam Callers.

Spam calls come from certain things.  The Politicians have opted themselves out so we get robocalled many times.  Naughty of them to opt themselves out.  I'll remember that in November.

There are job recruiters - oh, don't get me started on those.  The joy of getting a call is usually squashed when you hear a scratchy web phone call (Voice Over IP or VoIP) from India typically.

There are random telemarketers and the like but mostly they are not going to call back when you say "You do know I'm on the Do Not Call Dot Gov list, right?".

So how do I manage the repeat offenders?

If you are calling from my county or a nearby one (South Florida Area Code for me), I tend to just answer.   My family are already saved on my phone so I can tell.  My friends live on my phone as well.  

Outside of all of that, if I get a call and it's a (Oh excuse me, just got one... reject)... oh where was I...

Yes, I tend to save those numbers too.  But how do I mark them up?   I use a trick that the EMT and First Responders suggest, and boy it is simple. 

Closest Family gets "ICE" - in case of emergency.  Two folks get that for me so it is "ICE1" and "ICE2".

Business associates are "W" and then their name.  "W John" for example is saved in my SIM.  Sometimes a business associate can be a good friend too just like W John is.

City people get "WM" for the city I'm in but it could also be "C" for example or "PHL" if you're in Philly.

The biggest pests get the black list - "DNA".   Yes, my phone is littered with DNA.  It stands for Do Not Answer.  "DNA Recruiter" worked until I got annoyed with too many and had to switch to "DNA Company Name".

So why did this come to mind... It's early and I have gotten four calls already from time wasters of two different sorts.  In fact, my phone is ringing right now from a DNA while I am posting this.

Excuse me while I get this one.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fixing Flash Videos Showing Up A Green or White Screen

Over the weekend I got annoyed at the videos I wanted to watch.

They would show an entry picture, then when I clicked play it went to a green frame in the window.

See this video before.  It's a dog video, completely safe and really kind of cute.  You probably see a picture of a dog park, and a button to play in the middle of the frame.  Click on it.  If it plays you're good.

If you have Flash 11.3 like I do, it will only play the sound track.

To fix it:
  1. Right click on the video.  
  2. Select settings.
  3. Uncheck the box that says "Enable Hardware Acceleration".
  4. Click OK.
  5. Close all windows and tabs with Flash running - or just restart your computer.
  6. All Better?  Good, visit the original page for the video.  It's really a cute video and I am sure he'll appreciate it!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

101 Uses For Skin So Soft

Back when I lived in Pennsylvania, I had a bottle of this stuff.  I decided one day that since I was going to be outdoors working in the garden I would try it to keep the mosquitoes away.  Rubbing the Skin So Soft on my arms, legs, and face, I went out to the yard to tend to my Rose of Sharon and other plants.  30 minutes later, I came in... and found out that it worked like a magnifying glass.   Amazing amount of tan in just a half hour.  So thinking that I didn't really need to be dark since I normally tan quickly, I forgot about the Skin So Soft.   I didn't know about all these other uses.

101 Uses For Skin So Soft

It's a bath oil and after shower moisturizer.

It can be used to remove makeup.

Great tanning oil (no sunscreen).

Hot oil treatment to soften cuticles.

Great massage oil for tired muscles.

Cleans off tape marks left from bandages on skin.

Cleans ink off the skin.

Insect repellent.

Helps relieve itching caused by dry skin.

Cleans oil and grease off of skin.

Painting something? Use SSS to remove paint from the hands. (Instead of turpentine).

It soothes light sunburn.

Rub hands with it before washing, it helps get them cleaner.

Rub on dry, cracked skin.... helps heal skin in 2-3 days.

Put 1-2 cap fills in liquid soap and use it for shaving legs and under arms.

Pour a little into your Foot Saver to help moisturize your feet while you relax them.

It removes chewing gum from hair, skin, and most nonporous surfaces.

Cleans permanent ink off stamps.

Bath Oil works GREAT on Head Lice!!!!! Saturate head and let it set for 15 minutes. Then rinse under an outdoor faucet, lice will be gone! Of course shampoo hair a couple of times to get the oil out, but the lice were gone and stayed gone!

It kills ants instantly.

Spray on skin to relieve dry itching skin. Helps skin retain it's elasticity

Wash hair with shampoo and conditioner like always and after it dries.... Use a dime-sized dab of SSS and rub it in your hair. It goes straight in and leaves hair as shiny as the ads on TV, not greasy at all, just soft and shiny.

Use bath oil towelettes -- cover window sill with towelettes to keep ants out.

(LICE) Sometimes, using a bath oil, like Avon's SSS, will work to loosen the glue, which holds the nits to the hair. There is a product called Neon Nits, which when sprayed on the hair, will highlight the nits so you can see them to then snip them out with a small scissors.

If you have psoriasis on your elbows, an internist recommended trying Avon's SSS bath oil spray. After using SSS, it eliminated the psoriasis on my elbows.

Bath use, fill bath with water and add a little SSS, very relaxing and gets rid of dry skin.

Sponge it around doors, windows, and on screens to keep crawling bugs out.

It's a good wood cleaner and conditioner for natural wood.

It removes price tag and label glue from glass, metals, and most plastics.

It removes soap scum from shower doors and curtains, and bathroom and kitchen figures.

It removes lime and hard water deposits from fixtures, tile, shower doors and windows.

It's an oil lubricant for fitting pipe joints that won't slip together.

It cleans ink off most vinyl and painted surfaces.

It cleans heavy oil and grease from nonporous surfaces.

It takes fur off of clothing.

Rub on brass ornaments or figurines to help keep them from turning dark.

Removes crayon from appliances and most painted surfaces.

Wash cupboards with it mixed in your cleaning water to keep ants off and out of the cupboards.

Use it to discourage hornets from building their nests. After using a hornet killing spray, remove the nest and keep the area sprayed with SSS. They will not rebuild there.

Use it to clean leather; it will also keep it soft and supple.

Use it on your air conditioning screen (filter)--your incoming air will smell fresher and the filter is easier to clean.

Rub all over windowsills to keep ants out.

It cleans paintbrushes easily and leaves them soft as new.

It removes gum from carpets.

It removes scuffmarks from patent leather shoes.

Use it on running rails for sliding glass doors and windows.

It removes "ring around the collar".

It removes liquid nail (paneling glue).

Two glass bowls or glasses stuck together? Drizzle a little SSS down the sides and they'll come apart easily.

It removes candle wax from furniture, carpets and clothing.

Hummingbird Feeders: To deter bees try rubbing SSS on the feeder surface by the feeder ports.

Maggots too!! Apply SSS inside the can and lid, then later, flush with soapy water. You shouldn't have any maggots for the rest of the summer!

It is a great furniture polish!

Put SSS in one of those insecticide sprayers on the garden hose. Spray the back yard! This will cut down on ants, mosquitoes and fleas!

Spray it on your prized roses and even on flowers you place at the cemetery. Keeps both bugs and animals from eating the flowers.

Kills spiders.

It cuts grease and cleans dirt from range hoods.

Add a capful to wash water of clothes...acts as a fabric softener and keeps the bugs off clothes.

Spray on orchids and other flowers for moisture and to keep bugs away.

Cleans baseball caps. Just spray on and rub with toothbrush.

Mix one part SSS and 2 parts water and spray on your tomato plants every 2-3 days to keep tomato worms off.

SSS bath oil also does a great job cleaning cherry wood cabinets.

Put a little in your mopping water to help keep crawling bugs out. (Not too much or the floor gets slippery.)

Use to clean windows.

Removes crayon from most surfaces.

It's a great insect repellent (or you can use Bug Guard, the actual SSS repellent).

Screens can be lightly sprayed with AvonSSS to repel no-see-'ums and tiny gnats that otherwise might slip though the screens.

Another use for SSS is it will kill those pesky earwigs. Spray it on & they don't return to life.

Also if you ever make candles, use clear melted wax and put SSS in as it harden. Works great for outdoor use to keep the mosquitoes away.

As a deodorizer, spray into air and let settle, kills those nasty pet orders.

Kids rooms if a child wets the bed, spray the bedding and sheets before washing and will give it a fresh clean smell.

It's a great insect repellent for your pet. (As recommended in "Outdoor Life" and "Field and Stream").

Mix 5 parts water, 1 part SSS and mist on animals. Brushing it in makes their coats gleam and keeps insects off so the animals don't fidget in the show ring.

Mix in your pet's bath water. It takes the fleas off of them...and in between sprays them with the same mixture as in #2 to help keep them off.

Rub on your hands before and after working with your pets and farm animals. It will remove the strong smells.

Black Fly Spray For Dogs: Use as a spray or a dip. 1 cup SSS, 1/2 cup liquid detergent and 3 gallons of water.

For dogs dry skin mix 1 tablespoon of SSS per gallon of water and use as an after bath rinse. Or spritz your pet's coat once per week.

If your dog should get tar or asphalt on the pads of their feet rub on SSS and then wipe off.

Flea Bath: Use a flea and tick shampoo. Rinse, rinse, rinse so no soap residue is left. Follow with final rinse of 2 gallons of water mixed with flea dip and 1 capful of SSS. The SSS helps replace the oils lost in bathing and has the added benefit of repelling insects.

Flea Repellent: Avon's SSS BathOil. 1-1/2 ounces per gallon of water; used as a sponge-on dip (or as a spritz) has been tested and proven to have significant, but not complete, flea-repellent activity for a 6-day period. It should help those dry coats, too.

If you have a Chow, they are notorious for dry, flakey skin. Add SSS bath oil on their skin and it does wonders!

I use the following on my horses and on my dogs when necessary. 1-cup Avon SSS bath oil 1-cup white vinegar 1-cup (or more) water 5 cc of essential oil of citronella (from the health food store NOT the type you burn to keep insects away that is available in a drug store) Mix in a spray bottle. Straight SSS works well for mosquito’s too but really makes your dog greasy.

(Barns) Use of an inexpensive fly control spray or a diluted mix of Avon SSS in water can be sprayed on barn walls and floor to discourage insects from hanging around or to eliminate them before putting in the new bedding. As time permits, and if you can keep your goats out of the barn for a few hours - let the barn stand and air out before re-filling with bedding.

Rub on your hands before and after working with pets and farm animals, takes away pet odor.

Avon's SSS bath oil massaged directly into the skin of your Rottweiler acts not only as a successful repellant and makes their dogs smell good but helps prevent drying and itchy skin.

A natural way to help cats with flea problems and flea allergies is to rub Skin So Soft into the skin. Once a bug, always a bug. Fleas don't like it either! Spread the word!

Cats: SSS IS SAFE FOR FUR LICKING -------The SSS plus is safe as long as it is the one without sunscreen.

Don't overuse the SSS. I just use the lotion, and rub it into the skin, not more than every few days. My cat's sensitive and we're being careful. Common sense is the rule. Sprinkling Yeast on the cat food helps, too. My cat's fur is medium-length; he's part Persian, and he's doing fine, no ill effects from the SSS. You can check with your vet to be sure if it's okay.

SSS can be used as a hoof polish. This will put a nice shine to the hoof without drying it. The farrier's wife will appreciate this one!

SSS can be used as a muzzle, eye, and ear enhancer. Generally we used baby oil but it was so messy. I tried SSS and it works great and still helps keep bugs away.

I have a show mare that has allergies and also gets dry skin very easily so I started giving her baths in SSS. What I do is bathe her like normal and then I put a capful of SSS in a 5-gallon bucket of warm water and sponge this all over her. Her hair coat dries silky soft and she quits itching. Works for her.

When I have to band (braid) their manes I use SSS BathOil. It seems to help hold the braids a lot better and they don't try to rub them out.

It removes tar spots from the car without damage to the paint.

Use it to clean vinyl dashboards, seats, and tops. It not only cleans, but also keeps it soft and helps to prevent any cracking.

After washing your car, use it as a tire dressing to keep them looking like new.

Put some on a small washcloth and leave in the car to help keep the air fresh and clean.

Wipe down vinyl surfaces inside your car. Cleans nicely and removes smoke odors left by cigarette smokers.

It gently cleans heavy grease and oil from skin and nonporous surfaces (great for Mechanic's Hands).

It removes tree sap.

Prior to traveling...rub SSS on headlights and grill. It makes insects and bugs easier to remove.

Open a towelette and use as an automotive air freshener.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

First Graders Humor

Velma sent this one along to me this week.  When kids mangle a saying, it's usually for a reason, and this time it was to get me chuckling.

lst Graders

A 1st Grade School Teacher had twenty – six students in her class.  She presented each child in her classroom the first of a well- known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb  It’s hard to believe these were actually done by first graders.  Their insight may surprise you.  While reading, keep in mind that these are first graders, 6-years-old, because the last one is a classic!

1.     Don't  change horses until they stop running.
2.     Strike  while the bug is close.
3.     It's  always darkest before Daylight Saving Time.
4.     Never  underestimate the power of termites.
5.     You  can lead a horse to water but how?
6.     Don't  bite the hand that looks dirty.
7.     No  news is impossible.
8.     A  miss is as good as a Mr.
9.     You  can't teach an old dog new math.
10.     If  you lie down with dogs, you'll stink  in the morning.
11.     Love  all, trust  me.
12.     The  pen is mightier than the pigs.
13.     An  idle mind is the  best way to relax.
14.     Where  there's smoke there's pollution.
15.     Happy  the bride who gets  all the presents.
16.     A  penny saved is  not  much.
17.     Two's  company, three's the  Musketeers.
18.     Don't  put off till tomorrow what you  put on to go to bed.
19.     Laugh  and the whole world laughs with you, cry and you  have to blow your nose.
20.     There  are none so blind as Stevie  Wonder.
21.     Children  should be seen and not spanked or grounded.
22.     If at  first you don't succeed get  new batteries.
23.     You  get out of something only what you see  in the picture on the box.
24.     When  the blind lead the blind get  out of the way.
25.     A  bird in the hand is going to poop on you.
    And  the WINNER and last one!    
26.     Better  late than pregnant

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Friday The 13th, Folks

I'm not one of those folks that avoids Black Cats other than since I'm allergic to cats, I avoid all of them.

Walking under a "working" ladder is a foolish idea since someone could drop something on your head or you could knock them out of the sky.

I don't avoid the 13th of anything, I usually consider the Bakers Dozen of anything superior to a regular old boring Dozen.

So instead of today being Friday The 13th for me and running and hiding in a fetal ball in a corner under a table screaming "DUCK AND COVER", I'm chuckling at what I have become for the day.

Yes, coincidence has cause me to become "The Locus Of Weirdness" for the morning.  You are safe.  Weirdness is effecting me and I am taking it on my admittedly large shoulders to bear the load for you.

It started with my waking up in the middle of the night for a time check. 
2:00 AM?  Great, lets get back to sleep. 
2:15 AM?  The dog's snoring. 
2:34 AM?  Ugh one of those nights.
7:00 AM?  It's light out there, why am I not up yet.

Sitting up in bed I notice drops of rain falling from the hurricane shutters on to the Coleus under the Bougainvillea.  I grab the phone to check radar and it says there is nothing at all within 10 miles.  Clear.  Not a pixel green or any other color other than "map" colored.

Pad to the bathroom and open the medicine chest and the toothbrush holder falls onto the sink.  The water runs hot instead of what passes for cold here.   The dog is sniffing my leg as I lean back and startle her.

Ok, enough of this silliness, go weigh myself before... why does the scale say I only weigh 60 pounds?  Oh the lock is on the thing again... Much better, it says I gained 4 pounds overnight.  Obviously it's having a bad day.

Go to the kitchen, microwave the dog food, have the dog decide to check the front door ... it's a downpour.

Still nothing on Radar, but we go outside for the walk and it's stopped.   Completely.  As soon as my hand hit the doorknob to open it.   Like someone flipped a switch.  Weird.

Shrugging, I grab the 30 year old umbrella and walk out the door.  Lettie takes me on a long rambling figure 8 around the neigborhood on a Dog Directed Walk.  They're always strange.   We got to sniff new things like the dumpster behind the bar and the one behind the pizza place.   We confused Brad at the Pizza place who makes the best pizzas who never saw us behind the shops before and moved on.

Point of fact, when Brad makes pizzas they're excellent.  When Brad isn't making pizzas there at Humpy's, they can be anything from overcooked to undercooked.   Look for Brad. 

Leaving the back of the shopping center, I was thinking that I should nudge Lettie toward the house and without saying a word, she did it for me.

We wandered home past someone who said "You're Late!"...  To someone else.

Oooh, Pretty Rainbow.  Over Wilton Manors.   Some may say that a Rainbow over Wilton Manors is redundant.  I just say I was standing at the right place for the light to be bent at the right angle to make pretty colors.  

Redundant or not.

Getting home, my hand hits the doorknob and the rain starts again in torrents.

Oh well never did need that umbrella.  Weirdness and coincidence.  I'm telling you, fear not the 13th, I am making the world safe from weirdness!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bye Bye BBC Bush House

What is that man banging on about again?

Growing up, I discovered Dad's Radio.  I have it here.  It still works.  It is a grand thing, a Blaupunkt Hi Fi, built in October 1956.  Glowy things in the back called "Tubes" or "Valves".  It would get warm and make music and entertain you in a way that the connected era doesn't. 

Back when you had four TV channels, AM and a growing thing called FM that weirdos and Dentist's Offices listened to, you would eventually get bored with what was on and do something today that may be radical - turn off the TV.  Or the radio, depends on what you are "consuming".

Although being a precocious two year old (yes, I was 2 1/2 at the time) I discovered Dad's Radio.   He showed me how to use it, although I would bet it was after my banging on the buttons that made things work and probably after some yelling on his part.   I got to listen to the usual stuff but being that kid I wanted more.

I found a world of more on Shortwave.

At that time in my life I enjoyed being told stories and other than PBS, you didn't have real story tellers.  Of course you had cartoons but they got repetitive and daytime TV back then was soap operas.  Talk about dull.

Living on the prairie of South Jersey, we were close enough to be able to pick up certain international broadcasts.  There was a relay on Shortwave out of Sackville New Brunswick Canada that broadcasted the CBC, BBC, Radio Australia, and a few others.   I was hooked.  Learned some French by listening to CBC when they shifted at the hour from English to French on the Northern Quebec Service

Other times, there was the BBC World Service.   The World Service was a life long love affair that continues to this day.  I couldn't explain to the neighbor kids what I was listening to, and they weren't interested being more inclined to listen to local radio out of Philadelphia and the same thing that all the rest of the kids were listening to.

Silly Herd Minded People.   Probably grew up driving SUVs too...

While they were listening to pop music on AM radio, I was being told stories and game shows.  I also didn't care for Pop Music at the time having been exposed to Classical on Shortwave.  I had a bizarre knowledge of what was going on in The Empire at the time and listened in as colony after colony gained independence from The Queen. 

All of this happened in a building called Bush House.  They moved the World Service there after the bombing in 1941 during the Blitz in the Second World War, and remained there to this day.   Today actually.   They will be moving the World Service to The Strand in Central London.  The final news bulletin was read at Noon in London, 7AM our time in Florida.

Of course the news will go on, the World Service broadcasts mainly News and Business News since the "light entertainment" was shifted over to BBC Radio 4 in the 1980s.  I tend to only check into the World Service for news broadcasts preferring the Radio 4 Programming since it is broader and they're still doing those "stories" I grew up with.

I'm sure my sister could tell you stories about her weird brother listening to that big box in the rec room in Cherry Hill, NJ.  It's just the boxes got smaller and now connected to the internet so you too can pick that out as well as the overwhelming chatter of billions of voices. 

In the middle of all of that, the comforting voice of Auntie saying "This is the World Service of the BBC" is still connected via a link on my smartphone and on my PCs.  It's one of the links with the past that I've managed to maintain all these years.  It's just moved on to new digs, just like the production studios.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Flashes on the Eyelids

When the first thing you see in the morning is the bright flash of a lightning strike on the inside of the eyelids, you know it's going to be wet. 

Waking up at 5AM in a benedryl haze is fine, it's an hour early.  The dog isn't up yet, she's snoring on the mat next to the bed.  It's dark, mostly.  There are flashes in the distance.  

Eventually, bare feet hit the floor and pad to the bathroom.   The phone is working its way through the start up sequence as more flashes get louder, brighter, and closer.  By the time radar can be checked, there is an abstract painting of red, yellow, and orange over the map edging toward the house.  

You should have gotten out of bed when you saw that first flash.

In the few moments it takes to get ready to walk out the front window, the first raindrops fall.  Those raindrops are about the size of a cantaloupe and there are big splats on the pavement in front of the house.  

Usher the dog out the door, maybe we can dawdle and let the rain pass.  It's Florida after all, most hit or miss storms are only 20 minutes long.


So much for that.  She's mostly deaf and now she's pacing around the inside of the house after getting startled by that lightning strike that hit within a few blocks.

Oh well, not even 6AM.  We can delay.  

Wait for a gap in the storms promised by that radar app on the phone and go about life.  After all, it's filling the pool and watering those plants that you enjoy looking at.

While it gets quieter, we sneak out and let Mrs. Dog relieve her urgency.   Returning to the house, another nearby lightning strike turns the house brilliant white while the relays on the power conditioners snap like a little old lady's creaky joints when she's getting up from her comfy chair.

Not yet the right time to go outside with a metal lightning rod in the shape of an umbrella.  Grab the "golf umbrella".  Carbon Fiber does not conduct electricity.  Leave the watch at home and all the electronics.  It's time to get outside.

At least the dog is fed, she'll be more interested in a quick dash around the block when that gap is here.

Ok, Lets Go!  Walk!

Silent other than the white noise of the rain hitting the pavement.  Just me and my "working dog" plodding around the block.  

Pretty much a normal day in the Wet Season here.  Into each life a little torrent must fall.  Downpours are normal.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lisa's Love Sponge - A.K.A. The Neighborhood Pit Bull

Who knew a simple Picture Posting could take two hours to get onto the blog?

In my neighborhood lives Lisa. 

She's the kind of neighbor that you truly want to have.   We traded recipes and covered dishes at least twice a month.   She's had my baked goods and desserts, I've sampled her beef and roast pork.

I swear we are wearing a path to each other's doors with odds and ends over the years. 

Living there with her is son Billy, and her dog, Baby Doll.  Pretty well named dog for a pitbull.  You see, despite the reputation of the breed, this dog is simply a love sponge.  She'll waddle down the driveway wagging her tail to say hello to people.   Pretty useless as a watch dog, although you'll know there is someone coming since she does bark at passers by more to say hello than anything else. 

There are quite a few Pit Bulls down here in Florida.  It must be a Florida Thing, because there weren't that many where I lived in Philadelphia.  You can tell more about the owner of a dog by how the dog reacts to others in the area.  If you have a stereotype of a pit bull, being aggressive and snappy, then I would bet "2 to 1" that you have a person who should never own a dog...  If the same pit bull was raised in a loving home, you'll end up with a dog like this one.   A Love Sponge.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Typing With Your Voice using Google Voice Typing

This would be the first time I've ever tried to write a blog posting without ever typing. This is also third time that I've ever tried use Google Voice Typing. It's all a little bit like 'Star Trek'.  Instead of sitting at a keyboard, you are staring at a small screen speaking clearly to the program, I'm sorry everyone calls them apps see that didn't work omation point delete. See it's not quite perfect yet.

That was because for about 5 minutes while I try to convince this machine to do some basic editing that I could of done with keyboard. Still, all in all, it works fairly well. It has a little bit of trouble with my accent, whatever accent it is that I have at the moment.  I have found that I can't speak in a normal fashion, I'm doing what the Voice of America used to call Special English.

For those of us who didn't have a shortwave radio, Voice of America had programming where they would speak slowly. Each word would have an audible gap between, and sentences would be spoken in discrete words, one after another. It made for a slow listening experience, but it would make for an easier learning experience for a non English speakers.

I can't say that it's perfect but it's better than nothing. I'm finding that Google Voice Typing is good for getting rough text in that I have to go backwards and re-edit.  It also works better with some programs than others. Having seen voice recognition software progress through the years as programs got better and computers got faster I could say that this would be a lot worse in your situation certainly would of been a lot worse a few years back.

It also would help if I had the documentation so I could read the manuals and figure out how to make it do simple things like a new paragraph or a blank space, you know very basic editing. I think this is basically the pig has already been taught to sing but not terribly well, like in the Robert Heinlein quote: “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”

Or something or other like that.  Clearly the pig that has to be trained is the one trying to make it sing, in this case, me.  I will have to go into the settings and tell the program to try to learn my voice.   It should be an interesting exercise of reading nursery rhymes into it and speaking. slowly. into. the. microphone. one. word. at. a. time.

If you do have an Android device, find Settings, then click Language and Input, Voice Search, Personalized Recognition.  That promises to make it a little better at predicting your "turn of phrase".

I'm rapidly learning that I'm not going to be able to do list without hitting the keyboard here and there, and this text will have to be edited on a different machine. I never learned how to use on screen keyboard with any efficiency.  I am a touch typist and I'd strongly would prefer to use a clicky key keyboard that annoys the neighbors in the room any day to touching a dead cold glass service. If you saw some of the errors this was making you be laughing along with me.

I've been told that it's better on an iPad then it is on my Android tablet. I'm not that concerned about the comparison since I don't have an iPad, and the software will only get better as time goes on.  I was told that by an Apple fanboy (you know who you are!) that Siri on the Apple platform is pretty much hands free and you can do anything you wish simply by talking to the machine but that Android is not there yet.  Android is fairly good at what it's doing here, that is other than an occasional mistake it is able to put in text. I'll learn how to use the software better as time goes by.

After all I never did find that manual!  I guess they really haven't replaced the good old keyboard yet for some of us.  I see people hunting and pecking on their smartphones all day long, it just seems slow and a kludge for me, but then again I don't have to use that.  I can be entertained by talking at my phone and my tablet and when I make a mistake I can also watch the tablet type in a dirty word.  Remember, the first words you learn in a foreign language are typically the swear words!