|Comments for Sunday, September 25,
2022, thru Fri., Sept. 30, 2022:
September 29, 2022 - Did you know that the CIA has a podcast? It was recently mentioned on some late-night talk show. So, the next day I felt compelled to research it. It's called The Langley Files: a CIA Podcast. It's hosted by Dee and Walter (no last names provided), and their guest on the premier episode was Bill Burns, who is the current head of the CIA. So far, they have only produced one 18-minute episode. I listened to it. It was interesting, and I look forward to listening to the next episode. It was produced a week ago, so there will probably be a second episode produced very soon. I've also added it to my podcasts web page.
That page provides links to 66 different podcasts, mostly science related, but also some about history, comedy, movies and celebrity interviews.
It seems like every day I hear about another podcast that it totally new to me. I feel compelled to check them out, particularly if they are hosted by comedians or by scientists. There are definitely a LOT of podcasts out there that I cannot recommend. And there seem to be countless podcasts about subjects of no interest to me at all. And yet, it appears that the average person has never listened to a podcast, nor even knows such a thing exists. Our world is definitely becoming too complicated.
September 26, 2022 - I'm still spending too much time trying to fix the problems I have with my old Hewitt-Packard laptop computer. I've turned it over to the "expert" who thought he'd fixed all the problems last week. This morning we sat down together for almost an hour as I showed him the problems I was still having. Some of the problems seem to result from the fact that, when I use a "mouse" to move the cursor around the computer screen, some actions will be initiated if I simply move the cursor past something, without clicking on it. The expert always uses the touch pad, not the mouse, and he doesn't seem to encounter that problem. I never use the touch pad. I've pretty much give up hope for every getting my old computer back in perfect working order once again.
Meanwhile, I've been going through all my backup files.
In the image above, my primary backup hard drive is the big gray one at the top. It's a FreeAgent drive with 1,000,000,000,000 bytes (1 terabyte) of storage, and it's about 80% full. It has to be plugged into a power source in order to operate, and I've been putting stuff onto it for at least 10 years, possibly a lot longer than that since it seems to have stuff from 2002 on it, and maybe even from before that. I used it as my backup drive when I was still using a desktop computer.
The red one is another FreeAgent drive with about 250 gigabytes of storage space, and it's about 90% full. It contains most of the stuff that is on the gray one. I think I bought the red one to put in my safe deposit box, but I never got around to doing that.
The black one is my EasyStore drive, which I bought about a month ago when I decided I needed to organize my backups. It has the capacity to store 2,000,000,000,000 bytes (2 terabytes) of data and is currently about 1/4th full with about 470 gigabytes of data. It cost $60. I don't recall what the gray and red ones cost, but it was much more than that.
The picture also shows 13 of my 20 flash drives. When I bought the EasyStore drive, one of the first things I did was create a folder for all of my flash drives, and I copied 19 of my 20 flash drives into that folder. The 20th flash drive is in my safe-deposit box.
One thing I know I have is a LOT of duplication. The files of photographs I've taken over the years are on the gray, red and black drives, plus on one or two (or three) of the flash drives. But only the black EasyStore drive and my large Lenovo computer have the color-corrected (de-faded) versions of the pictures I wrote about on September 11. The question now is: In how many different places do I want to store those photos?
September 25, 2022 - I haven't posted anything here in the past few days because I'm still working on problems with my old Hewitt-Packard (HP) computer. I had thought that the problem was that my security software provider had installed something other than Windows 10 Home operating system into my computer. I now understand that they apparently just installed a "wrong" version of Windows 10 Home. I know this because last week I took my computer to a local "expert" and he installed a very different version of Windows 10 Home. It's also different from the version I have in my new Lenovo computer, which is different from the version I have in my old Lenovo computer.
The main problem, however, is that I still cannot use the keyboard on my HP computer. When the "expert" gave the computer back to me on Friday morning, he said it was totally fixed. He said, however, that they had to wipe out all my old files in order to install the new version of Windows 10 Home.
When I got home and turned on the computer, I found just the opposite. All my old files were fully intact, and I still couldn't type more than a single character into the computer. I could use the mouse to open Notepad, for example, but I could only type 1 character onto Notepad and then I'd get a screen telling me to sign in in order to get help from Microsoft. But I cannot type anything into the sign-in box. When I informed the "expert" of this, he simply could not believe it.
So, tomorrow I'll take the computer back to the "expert" so that we can sit down together and he can show me how to make the keyboard work. And I'll show him that all my old files are intact.
My thinking now is that the "expert" is fully experienced with new computers and is assuming I know something I do not know. I've been working with computers since the late 1960s when I worked as a computer programmer using COBOL software on a large "main frame" company computer. I got my first "personal computer" probably sometime in the the early 1980s when I stopped using a typewriter to write movie screenplays and books, and switched to using an IBM PC.
It also seems I'm approaching the "problem" from the opposite direction than the "expert." He's looking at what new computers do, and I'm looking at what my old computers did and currently do. He's assuming I know something that I don't know, possibly because I seem to be the only person left on this planet who does not own a smartphone. Additionally, it seems that everyone is storing files in "the cloud" these days. My old Lenovo computer cannot even store anything without running into problems when it comes time to download a new version of Windows 10.
But we're making definite progress.
Meanwhile, I really need to find something else to write about on this web site. But, about the only other topic I regularly think about is politics. I simply cannot comprehend how anyone in their right mind could vote for Donald Trump, but there are a lot of people out there who believe and trust him in spite of all the illegal and despicable things he does and has done. How can that be? I keep thinking it must be because they are thinking emotionally, not logically. They want to go back to the way things were, they don't want a future where things things seem unpredictable. They want a dictator as their leader, someone who will force everyone to stop arguing and force them to return to "the good old days." They don't say that, of course. They simply say that they "like" Trump and what he stands for. In other words, their thinking is purely emotional. And facts and evidence are just things the "bad guys" make up and falsely claim to be true.
Meanwhile, the price of gas at the station down the street from me jumped 40 cents yesterday, and it jumped 14 cents the day before that. It's now $3.999 per gallon. It was $3.459 just five days ago. But only for one day. If I were an emotional person, I'd be looking for someone to blame. My governor? President Biden? Vladimir Putin? The gas companies? All of them? How does one decide without looking at the facts and evidence? And who has time to do that?
|Comments for Sunday, September 18,
2022, thru Sat., Sept. 24, 2022:
September 21, 2022 - I think I finally figured out what happened to my old computer. Several weeks ago, when I contacted my security software provider about a minor problem I thought I had, they downloaded a new copy of Windows 10 into my HP laptop to get rid of the problem. Instead of getting rid of anything, however, they created a new problem. They installed a version of Windows 10 that is apparently mostly for hand-held devices. My computer was using Windows 10 Home. I think the version they installed requires entering my password via a smartphone. I didn't realize that when I contacted them yesterday once again to try to fix the problem, and they installed an even more recent version of Windows 10 for smartphones. Now I can't even type anything into the password box. It won't accept anything from my keyboard.
The solution seems to be to re-install Windows HOME in my computer. I hesitate to contact my security software provider for a third time on this problem. When talking with them, they all have very heavy accents, probably from India. Plus, they are a large international corporation, which means they try to automate everything, which means they want you to answer a whole string of automated questions in order to figure out who they should put on the phone with me.
On the positive side, I'm pretty sure my computer wasn't "hacked."
September 19, 2022 - Here's the sign-in screen I get when I turn on my old computer. I have no idea what that box of switches is in the lower left corner. It wasn't there when my computer was working properly. Neither were the "Sign-in options."
When I try to sign in on this screen, I'm only allowed to type 5 digits. My password was 8 digits. Clicking on the "Sign-in options" icons just gives me a different screen where I'm still only allowed 5 or 6 digits. Sometimes the "Narrator" switch turns on and a narrator starts talking about things of no interest to me.
I took my computer to Best Buy to see of their customer service people could figure things out. They couldn't, and they didn't seem to see anything odd about this sign-in screen. They just puttered around for awhile and then told me there was nothing they could do.
So, I'm showing it here to see if anyone who views this web site can tell me what is going on. I assume I've been hacked, but no one has tried to contact me to "sell" me a solution to this problem.
Since I had everything backed up, I'm able to work on my new computer, but I'd like to know what happened to my old computer.
September 18, 2022 - I'm still trying to recover from no longer being able to use my old computer. Yesterday morning, I noticed that at the top of this web page I had a link to my oldguynewissues blog. Since I can no longer update that blog, I've removed the link. There was also a statement that "You can email me at" my old outlook.com email address. Since I can no longer access that email account, I changed that link to use my main email account. Additionally, under the picture of Humphrey Bogart I had a link to "movies" which led to a list of screenplays I'd written long ago, but that list was on anthraxinvestigation.com, which was shut down over a year ago. Rather than just remove the link, I changed it to go to www.imdb.com.
Another problem I now have, which most others who visit this web site have had for a long time, is that the screen on my new computer is 1366x768 pixels. My old screen was 1920x1080 pixels. So, the pictures at the top of this web site are squeezed together to fit the smaller screen size. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that.
I recently bought a 2-terrabyte hard drive at Best Buy for $60. The hard drive I've been using as my main backup for a least 9 years probably cost at least $200 and has about 1-terrabyte storage capacity. Of that, I've used 779,872,227,328 bytes.
My plan is to copy the essential stuff from my old backup drive to my new backup drive, organize it better, and use the new drive as my main backup from now on. Yesterday, I copied my folder of Fake Detective files from the old backup drive to the new backup drive. The folder contained 294,158 items and it took 2½ hours to do the copy. (Copying the 5,000 photographs I've taken over the years took less than a minute.) That one folder consisted of over 134,000,000,000 bytes. One of the sub-folders in that file consisted of copies of 62 checks I received for my work as The Fake Detective. The first check is dated March 13, 2002, and the total amount on all the checks was well over $100,000. I doubt that Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe ever made that much.
I also found Fake Detective stuff going back to late 1996. At that time, The Fake Detective was just a web site. Here's an image I created on The Fake Detective's second anniversary:
|Comments for Sunday, September 11,
2022, thru Sat., Sept. 17, 2022:
September 16, 2022 - Yesterday, the Hewitt-Packard laptop computer I'd been using for about 10 years stopped working. Fortunately, I had everything backed up as of September 1, and some key files were backed up as of the day before yesterday.
But I've lost access to my detect at outlook dot com emails. Most of the emails I get at that address are junk, but it's the email address I use on all 13 of my scientific papers. I set up the email account many years ago, and I've lost the password I used, so I could only access the emails on my old computer which automatically inserted the correct password.
Months ago I tried to get Microsoft to give me the password or allow me to set up a new password, so I could access the emails from my "new" computers, but they assumed I was some hacker trying to access someone else's email account. So, I got nowhere.
Now it looks like I'll have to try again.
I also can't find the passwords I used to set up my blog files at http://anthraxdebate.blogspot.com/ and http://oldguynewissues.blogspot.com/
But I haven't updated the anthrax blog since April 2, 2018, and I haven't updated the issues blog since April 23rd of this year, and those blogs very rarely get any visitors. So, I think I'll just forget about them, instead of trying to regain update access.
Meanwhile, I'll have to figure out the best way to do things on my "new" computer. And the first thing I have to try is updating my web site. If you can read this comment, then I've done so successfully.
I see, however, that not all images I mention in my comments appear correctly. So, I'll have to work on that.
September 14, 2022 - A few days ago, I received the first of two scam emails that try to get me to divulge security codes and other information. I see news reports about such scams on TV, but they never contacted me before, probably because I use a laptop computer to access emails and the Internet, not a cell phone.
Here's what the first of the two emails looked like (you can right click on it to view a larger version):
The first clue that indicated it was a scam was the fact that it was addressed to about 100 different outlook.com email addresses, all beginning with the letters "de". My address was about the 80th on the list.
The second clue was that I'm not an Amazon Prime member.
The third clue was that the return address wasn't Amazon's address, but an address at carid.com. Google indicates that CARiD.com is supposedly some kind of automotive parts retailer, but I don't know if carid.com is the same place or not.
The fourth clue was that they wanted me to click on a link to t.co which I thought was in Columbia, but some research shows it's a Twitter account of some kind. I don't use Twitter.
The second email, which I received yesterday, was supposedly from Microsoft, claiming they were going to "block" my outlook.com email account due to some "unusual activity." The return address on the email was for someone in Aldegua, Guatemala. There were two attachments to the email which I assume contain the key parts to the scam. I didn't open the attachments.
Does anyone fall for such scams?
September 12, 2022 - I found another photo of that "Laboratory" building with the Snark cruise missile out front that I showed in yesterday's comment. It's possible that there were two such missiles out front, since there seems to be part of another missile at the far left edge of this photo. The flat landscape suggests the picture was probably taken somewhere near Cape Canaveral, Florida.
I think I drove down the east coast of Florida to get to Key West, and then I drove up central Florida when I was heading home. I've got lots of pictures of Castillo de San Marcos and Potter's Wax Museum, which are both located in Saint Augustine, FL, on the east coast. I also have pictures of the Miami Seaquarium. And I have lots of pictures of Cypress Gardens, Silver Springs, and the Singing Tower at Lake Wales, FL, which are all located in central Florida. And I've got lots of pictures of places that do not seem to exist anymore. Or, if they do, they are located nowhere near where I'm searching via Google.
I really need to get to work on something more productive!
Added Note: This afternoon I used the duckduckgo search engine instead of Google to search for pictures of a Snark cruise missile, and I found the picture below.
The copyright-free photo was taken in 1960 and is titled "View of a Northrop SM-62 'Snark' missile at the Air Force base - Cocoa Beach, Florida." Cocoa Beach is just south of Cape Canaveral. The location is Patrick Air Force Base, and if you do a search for that name you will find all kinds of pictures of the same building as it looks today with many more missiles on display out front. And I found that the name I couldn't read on the building next to the missile is "Technical Laboratory."
September 11, 2022 - Hmm. It's rather difficult to write a comment on September 11 without mentioning the Twin Towers attack on 9-11 and the two batches of anthrax-filled letters that were mailed a short time later.
This morning I checked a conspiracy theorist's web site to see if he was still in business. The web site still exists, but there haven't been any new comments posted since April 12 of this year. I shut down my web site anthraxinvestigation.com over a year ago, on August 4, 2021. I hadn't updated it since December 2014. I created this web site in January 2015. Conspiracy theorists seem incapable of changing their minds, so there are undoubtedly still a lot of them out there on the Web. And there are still people interested in the anthrax attacks. I sold a Kindle copy of my book A Crime Unlike Any Other less than a month ago.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to move on to other things. For the past few days I have been puttering around with my photo collection. I have about 5,500 photos in the collection. Some of the oldest were slides. In late 2012, I bought a gadget that converts slides and photographic negatives into digital images. I converted my entire photo collection.
Most of the pictures were taken on trips I did alone. My first trip was a drive from Racine, Wisconsin, to Deadwood, South Dakota. My plan was to drive to Yellowstone National Park, but repeated car problems caused me to turn around at Deadwood. My gas tank fell off just outside of Deadwood, and I toured the town while the tank was being re-attached. I took only 95 pictures on that trip. All are still in excellent condition.
I spent nearly all day on Friday going through the images I took the following year when I drove down to Key West, Florida, stopping at many famous locations along the way. I took 254 color slides on that trip. Every single one of the slides is faded. When I did the digital conversion in 2012 there was no way to "un-fade" them. All I could do then was create black and white versions of them, which I did for a few. Today I have paint.net installed in my computer, and with just one click I can do an "auto level" adjustment to a faded photo and create an un-faded version of it. Below is an example. The top picture is the faded version, and the bottom picture is the corrected version.
I spent all day Friday un-fading the 254 slide pictures I took on that trip. Unfortunately, while I can remove the fading, I can't remove all the dust and dirt particles. I would have to dig out the slides, clean them and then reconvert them. Or I could use paint.net to edit them, if I had all the time in the world to do that.
My immediate problem, however, was to figure out what is being seen in the pictures above. I did a Google Image search to see if I could find anything matching the pictures, and I found nothing. There's a name on the front of the building, but all I can make out is the bottom word: "Laboratory." The top word might be "Technology," but it could also be a name of some person or city. It seems a virtual certainty that none of it exists today. A Google Image search finds nothing like it.
The next year I drove to Washington, DC, New York, and Boston, turning around just inside the Maine border (so I can say that I've been to Maine) and returning via Niagara Falls, Canada, and Upper Michigan. I took 300 pictures on that trip. They're all faded, too. Here's a faded and unfaded example:
The next year I joined the Air Force. Something must have changed, because I have no faded pictures from that time onward.
I definitely need to find some better way to spend my time than sorting through pictures.
|Comments for Thursday, September 1,
2022, thru Sat., Sept. 10, 2022:
September 5, 2022 - While driving home from the gym this afternoon, I finished listening to CD #3 in the 3-CD audio book "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race" by Jon Stewart. I "borrowed" it from my local library on Feb. 19, 2021, and it finally reached the top of my listening queue.
The Daily Show premiered on the Comedy Central Network on July 22, 1996, when it was hosted by Craig Kilborn. Jon Stewart became the host of The Daily Show on January 11, 1999, and continued until August 6, 2015, when Trevor Noah took over.
This audio book was produced in 2010 and consists of Jon Stewart reading about fairly serious subjects with a undertone of humor, and fellow comedians from the Daily Show add humorous comments. Sigourney Weaver reads the names of the sections and chapters. The 3rd CD, for example, contains a lengthy discussion of "The Scientific Method."
The audio book was funny in parts, and very interesting in parts, but it was also a bit annoying, because Stewart and the others would sometimes talk in very soft voices, which is difficult to hear while driving. I would recommend listening to it in a quiet room using headphones or some kind of speaker system. Fortunately, the whole book totaled only about 3½ hours of listening time. There are hardcover and paperback versions which seem to be about 80% illustrations, and the other comedians on the audio book basically just read a small fraction of the captions for the photos. Reading the actual book is - by far - the best way to access this book. The illustrations give you a much better idea of what they are talking about.
September 4, 2022 - My niece and her husband paid me a visit about three weeks ago, and somehow the discussion got around to places I've been and things I've done over the years. To aid the discussion, I began skimming through my digitized photo collection, showing them pictures on my big flat screen TV. They seemed very impressed by all the places I've been. They even suggested that I should write an autobiography. That is never going to happen, but since that time, I've been periodically looking through my photo collection, which consists of several thousand photos
At the top below, is a photo I took myself at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan many many years ago. I was a weather observer. I think that's some kind of atmospheric air pressure measuring device next to the phone. You can see part of the airfield runway outside the windows. I took the picture in order to create some "trick" photos.
The bottom picture is a "trick" photo I created a day or two later. This was long before there was any such thing as "photoshop." I think I printed a copy of the original picture of me at the base recreation center, I then cut out the windows, and I then laid that cut-up photo atop a photo I found in a magazine. Then I took a picture of the combo. I repeated the procedure with three other magazine photos in the background, one of giraffes, another of a rhinoceros, and another of the string of bars in "MP Alley" in the town of Misawa.
Years before that, when I was still in my teens, working in my basement I created the two "trick" photos shown below. It was called "table top photography" back then.
Experience with creating "fake photos" like those shown above eventually led to me becoming "known around the world" for my detective work in debunking photo-shopped fake pictures being circulated on the Internet. I even had a weekly feature about photo fakery in an Australian magazine for about ten years.
While it might be interesting, it's not the kind of stuff that makes a top-selling autobiography. Neither is writing 13 science papers that only a handful of people have read. But it was definitely interesting for me.
September 2, 2022 - Hmm. I decided it was time to fill up my gas tank. So, this afternoon I stopped at the gas station down the street from me where they are advertising regular gas at $3.949 per gallon on the big sign out front. To my pleasant surprise, when I looked at the price on the pump it was "only" $3.899 per gallon. So I filled up my tank with 8.983 gallons, for a total cost to $35.02. I saved a whopping 45 cents!
Somehow I suddenly feel very positive about things.
September 1, 2022 - Yesterday, the price of gas at the station down the street from me jumped 15 cents to $3.949 per gallon. And, of course, it's getting to be about time for me to fill my gas tank.
Meanwhile, since I'm not working on any science papers, and I'm not working on my newest book, I just sit around and listen to podcasts and watch TV. And I think about what I should work on next. That doesn't give me much to write about in my comments here. Sorry about that.