OS Rant

23 August 2021

OS Rant

Well, it’s gotten to the point where I am going to rant about software and operating systems, so if you’re not interested in any of that you might well want to skip this post.

I’m retired, so my computers are all mine and all at home. Well, not including my phone, that is. I used to be, among other hats worn in ages past, a system administrator for a department’s test and work computers. Even though work went with Micro$oft, I personally favored using Linux since way back when, about 1995. I’ve used it on my personal machines since then.

So, what’s all that “background” mean?

WARNING! RANT MODE ON!!

I’m biased against M$, that’s what it means. I’ll grant it’s a decent OS if you don’t mind giving up control to some arsehole who doesn’t care about waiting to reboot your machine until you’re done or letting you manage your updates yourself. Oh, no, you’re not smart enough to handle that. or to protect your computers with broken updates and Swiss cheese M$ programs pushed as secure. No, M$ will do that for you, whether you want or not and whether the updates are good or are going to change things on your machine or break it. They clearly know much better than you.

Bah, what a bunch of BS from M$.

M$ Windoze used to be reasonably decent, letting you manage your machine yourself. You could pick and choose what updates/upgrades to apply when you wanted to. That was then, this is now. Now, you got no choice when to upgrade unless you happen to be able to afford the Professional or Enterprise flavor of the OS. Any other flavor, you have to take their updates and upgrades and like it. If you don’t, too effing bad, they don’t care about lost work or interrupting your workflow or slowing your machine down by doing the downloads when they da*n well feel like it.

At this very moment, I have only two laptops running Windoze. Of those two machines, one is not online at all…any updates to either the OS (hah, yeah right, as if) or programs, sorry, apps for you newcomers, on it are strictly by sneaker-net. Google it. That machine has certain programs on it that I find useful and have no need to constantly upgrade to the so-called newest and latest. And there’s no way in hell I’m going to upgrade that laptop to Windoze 10. It runs perfectly fine and runs my Adobe stuff for photography and video – more about that later – and other old useful programs just fine. I also run some games on there, even though I don’t play all that much, such as the Myst series, Quern, The Ball, and so on…you know, games where you have to think, not just shoot everything that moves.

The other Windoze machine I use for one and only one purpose. However, M$ has arrogantly interrupted some of my downloads to do updates and reboots. Twice, now, that has happened in the middle of a critical file download, causing me wasted time and effort. On top of that, about 50% of the time that effing OS is downloading stuff in the background, bringing this machine to a crawl at times. Other times their updates mess up my settings.

Up until now I’ve fiddled with all the settings I could, in the registry and otherwise, to regain some control of those upgrades. It seems like M$ has arrogantly decided that I don’t know what I’m doing and so am not allowed to have control over my own machine. I set up tighter protection on that machine because of what I work on there, and not being able to stop updates until I am ready is no longer acceptable. That machine, as of tomorrow, is being switched over to Linux, where I will have control over my own machine. The main program that I’d been using on there has had a Linux equivalent for some time now, and M$ has screwed me up enough times that I’m moving that laptop over to Linux, an OS that respects the right of the owner to control and fully manage his or her own computer the way they want, even if that might cause security issues. Hell, M$, why is it so hard for you to understand that many of us DO f-ing know what we’re doing.

That will leave me with just one computer still running Windoze. For anyone curious, it’s 8. That one, M$ has NO control over, happily, as that machine is never online in any way so Windoze never gets to call home and complain about not being updated. Sneaker-net may be a PITA, but it works and keeps that machine perfectly secure.

One reason I keep that isolated machine around is Adobe. Told you I’d get to that. I was fortunate to get the full CS6 suite on sale. I have updated that via thumb drive as features became available that I wanted to use. This also allows me to keep CS instead of having to deal with constant pushes to upgrade (really?) to CC. I mean…who the heck in their right mind wants all their stuff on the cloud? I spend too much time up in the Owyhees, for example, where there’s no cell or internet service. How the heck am I supposed to work on my stuff there if it’s all on the cloud? No, sir, I want my stuff here on my machine and backups where I know I can get to them wherever I might be working. Besides, look at all the tales of people losing things on the cloud and having to create again from scratch. Granted, some of that might be idiots who don’t know what they’re doing, but that is also a hacking target. I’ll pass, thanks.

I also use that isolated machine to run some really old programs, such as VisualGPS. These are programs that I simply haven’t found a newer version of that provides what I want, and updating the OS will likely break them.

Oh, I do use the cloud for some stuff, so I’m not completely against it and do recognize that it has its use. But having all your programs on the cloud or being subscription only? Hell, no.

I’m starting to have some issues with Firefox, as well. Recent versions have gotten to where it’s really hard to find how to set up to control your updates to that program. I’m quite familiar with about:config as well as the dropdown settings. It used to be Firefox could be set up to just inform you there was an update available and let you update when you wanted to. Now, it’s been updating on it’s own, kind of like Windoze 10 does, downloading in the background then failing to access web sites until you reboot. That has cost me some time and effort when it does that, almost to the point of looking at other browsers with the intent to replace Firefox. I’m hoping they’ll restore that setting in one of the next updates, otherwise as much as I prefer Firefox, I’m going to move to another browser that gives me the control I want.

It’s obvious that most of my issues are not being able to control when updates and upgrades happen. There’s a reason for that…I want my machine set up my way, not your way. Your way works for you, and my setup is customized specifically for the things I do with my machine and the programs I use while having a hard focus on security due to my system administrator days.

OK, I’ve run out of steam for the moment.

RANT MODE OFF

HOT

22 July 2021

HOT.

That one word pretty much sums it up here.

Since my last blog post, I still haven’t seen much in the way of family Corvidae other than several magpies. Usually, the whole time I’m out and about even the magpies are either nonexistent or I only see one or two. Yesterday was a little odd in that I actually saw a total of six or seven magpies, with the biggest parliament in any one spot being three. That’s actually the most I’ve seen at any one time this year. Driving back from running errands so no camera and no chance to stop for a picture.

That last is pretty much the story of my search for pictures of Corvidae so far this year.

The heat these last several months, though, has been so bad that I have seen very few birds on the wing this year. Hawks, eagles, robins, blackbirds, pigeons, doves…pretty much nothing’s flying during the day at the moment.

The smoke from the fires in Oregon and California isn’t helping things either. It’s almost funny that the smoke from the fires in Idaho aren’t a problem here where I live. But that from the Oregon and California fires…that’s making things hard on the lungs here. What breezes we have don’t help much, it’s more like they just swirl around the smoke, redistributing it.

I haven’t really seen a decent night sky in months now. I mean, seriously. Red or orange suns, orangey moons, a star here and there…not much for the astronomer/astrophotographer in my area. Or, apparently, anywhere close enough to drive to for the night.

It’s bad, it’s smokey, and it’s hot. That’s not good, at all.

I did get out for some fishing last weekend. The three of us left about 1930 for the Snake River. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones with the great idea of going fishing that day. Almost every turnout or camping spot along the area we were in was already occupied. We did manage to find a spot and backed down into it, unloaded, and were able to start fishing around 2030.

Beautiful sunset on the Snake River that night.

Right off the bat I was getting bites, but wasn’t able to set the hook. Over the night I was able to land three nice decent channel catfish, each between 14 and 16 inches. Those went home with one of the guys. The only other fish actually landed that night was a largemouth bass, too small to keep, being under 12 inches. We finally headed home at 0300. That was a fun time.

Nice mess of channel catfish.

That was also the only time I’ve seen the sky even look clear enough to have been decent for astrophotography. Recalling reading about some guys who got decent Milky Way photos with their cell phones, I decided to try for it while I had the chance. Using my Galaxy Note 20’s native camera app, I was able to at least pick up the Milky Way. The smoke caused some issues, but at least I know it’s doable. This shot was handheld against the arm of my camp chair, with the wide angle lens wide open. I think that’s pretty dang good and I’m eager to try it with a tripod or something more steady and in clear air.

Milky Way from cell phone, even though we had smokey skies, this isn’t too bad!

Earlier this year I did a bit of shooting when it was just beginning to have multiple days of 100 degrees in a row. I really enjoy shooting my Pietta 1858 New Army Revolver, aka 1858 Remington. Mine is the .44 caliber and shooting this cap and ball revolver is a blast.

Shooting my Pietta 1858 Remington cap and ball

The last time I went to the range, though, while I put quite a few balls through it that day, it was also warm enough to melt the lube in the tin I keep it in. I’ve come across a recipe for a 50-50 mix of beeswax and Crisco that I’m going to try. The Crisco works well, but in this heat it just turns liquid sitting in the ex-Altoids tin in the hot sun. I’m hoping to head out to the range sometime next week and see how the new 50-50 mix works.

Like many others, I sure wish this heat and smoke would go away. I know I’ve got it better than many folks so I’m trying to be patient, but man, oh man, I can hardly wait for cool, clear skies and air.

Stay safe.

My YouTube Channel

8 May 2021

Well, it’s been an interesting time since my last post two months ago.

Family Corvidae just hasn’t been making an appearance yet. I want to say that this time last year they were seen quite often, but who knows if that’s actually the case or just my poor memory? On my recent outings, I’ve noticed a few members, primarily magpies with the occasional sight of crow. No decent photographs to offer up, yet. As the weather improves and settles down, things do seem to be looking up for this project, though.

Alas, still no sheet music for “Magpie” by The Unthanks.

In the meantime, I finally gave in to my granddaughter’s old suggestion to put some of my videos on YouTube. The idea, originally, was to be able to share with family. I’ve been having a blast getting back into video work.

The end result is the creation of my channel, Bill’s Experiences, and posting three videos.

The first was one I’d made some time ago: Wickahoney Orbit 2016. That was one of the first videos I made from my DJI Phantom 4.

The other two videos are my black powder experiences with a new Pietta 1858 New Army revolver. The first, Shooting the 1858 Remington Cap and Ball Revolver, is an initial attempt to present not only shooting the revolver, but also what it’s like from my view rather than that of a bystander and what it’s like for me at a gun range. I’m totally deaf so to emphasize that, there’s no audio track.

The second, Three Shots in Slow Motion, is just that: three shots from that outing presented in slow motion to allow one to see the cool black powder smoke develop as the weapon fires. Look carefully, at the last one especially, and you can see the flame as well.

As I’ve mentioned before, or so I think, I really enjoy shooting black powder. More so than I do shooting more modern firearms. There’s just something about black powder that is lacking when shooting the rest. The fun factor is there, but it’s not just that. There’s a skill involved, loading them, and the way they shoot is just different. Almost more peaceful, more relaxing if that makes any sense. While I have shot flint, mine are all percussion.

Soon, I hope, I’ll be posting a video showing them shooting in the dark. It’ll be cool to see the muzzle flash and I’m curious if there is any flash from the caps firing.