All posts by Tom

Quick Travel Update

>mebeli sofianally have a chance to post a quick note about out latest travels.  After visiting Glacier National Park we entered Canada, visited Waterton National Park, and spent two days in Calgary. We are now are staying at Canmore, near Banff.

We’ll be spending another week wandering around the Canadian Rockies before heading home.

I’ll try to get some photos up soon but internet connections are a bit spotty.



We has a rather severe thunderstorm on Friday morning.  Lightning, lots of rain and high winds – and we were just on the edge of the storm.  After the storm we discovered our apple tree had been uprooted.  The combination of wind and saturated soil were responsible, plus the tree was getting quite old.  No other damage found other than small limbs from other trees being broken off.

At least apple is pretty decent for firewood…

Now distributed raman amplifierSun is getting into the game of secretly futzing around with FireFox!  A recent Java Runtime update added something called Java Quick Starter to FireFox and just like with the Microsoft one, they did it without telling you or giving you a way to say “No Thanks”.  Again, the uninstall option is not available.

I’m not sure if there is any security risk with this add-on but I’m getting a little tired of having updates to one piece of software go and screw up some other, unrelated, program.  How do we tell these pushy companies to keep their cotton picking hands off FireFox?  Maybe the folks at Mozilla need to block add-ons that aren’t explicitly requested by the user.

Anyway, if you find it in your list of add-ons, here is a link to information on what it does and how to get rid of it if you want to.  They seem to work but require a reboot.

If you are like me you use the FireFox web browser for security reasons.  If so, here is something you really should be aware of.  In a recent Windows update, Microsoft quietly slipped in an add-on for FireFox that makes that browser much less secure.

This add-on allows a web site to quietly install software on your computer without your knowledge or permission!  Avoiding things like this is one of the main reasons people switched from IE to FireFox to begin with.  Worse, this add-on has its uninstall button DISABLED so it cannot be removed once discovered.

Here is a link to another article with more of the gory details.

This situation has caused a huge brouhaha on the net – enough that MS finally put out a patch to allow people to uninstall the add-on (knowledge base article: KB963707). Go to this URL to download the appropriate file (32 or 64 bit).   You may have to use IE 🙁 to download the file.

Once you run this update, the uninstall button for the .NET add-on will be enabled and you can get rid of this  nasty little bit of Microsoft junk in the usual way of uninstalling a FireFox add-on.

What I can’t understand is why Microsoft thinks it is justified in tampering with non-MS software.  Just one more reason not to trust them.

Most people who do anything serious with a home computer use a battery backup system or UPS (Uninteruptable Power Supply) to keep it running through power glitches, dropouts or brown-outs.

Simply, a UPS is a battery, battery charger, inverter and a switching system to transfer to batter power when needed.  Without a UPS, the briefest loss of power will crash your computer and you will loose whatever unsaved data you were working on.  In the worst case the computer can be permanently damaged this way.

Not many people know that, just like the battery in a car, a UPS battery has a finite lifetime.  After a few years they no longer hold their charge and therefore the UPS can no longer perform its function.

Here is a typical UPS that I use on one of my machines. ups-front

During a recent thunderstorm I saw the AC power flicker and the machine connected to that UPS died.  A quick check showed that the UPS was not working.

Continue Reading

I’ve been rather poor about posting to the blog lately.  No real excuse except I’ve been doing other stuff.

I’ve been slowly recovering after my chemotherapy and things are going fairly well.  I still am rather weak and tire out easily but gradually I’m getting back to normal. My hair is starting to grow back – I actually have a visible beard again.  I still don’t know what I’m going to do with my hair.  So many people have commented that they like me bald, so I may continue that look.  Depends on how much of a hassle it is to maintain.

I also had cataract surgery May 15 on my left eye and my vision is already significantly better.  I’ll have the right eye done on June 4 and after that I should have better eyesight than I have for many years.

With better vision I hope I will be posting more here.   Stay tuned.

Ringing The Bell

I’m way behind on posting this.

I had my last chemo treatment on March 02 (HOORAY!) and one of the traditions at the clinic is that, after their final treatment, the patient get to ring the bell to signify the event.  Well, here I am – wish I had audio.

Ringing the Bell

All of the staff and other patients cheered or applauded.  It felt very good.

Jan also took a few pictures of the nurses who took such good care of me through all of my treatments.  Here I am with Lesta and Wendy who were the ones who usually hooked  up and monitored me while the drugs were administered.


Below is Carol, who managed the pharmacy and looked out for me in terms of drug interactions and possible side effects.  She was also one of the most cheerful and funny people on the staff.  She even dressed up in costume for special events.


While the whole process was rather difficult and long, the staff at the clinic did everything they could to make the process as easy as possibe for me.  Thanks to everyone there.