The Good Wife, Key Logging Spyware

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

I watched my first episode of The Good Wife (CBS, 9pm CST Tuesday) two weeks ago, and I found it to be a smart legal and political drama. The gloves come off, and that goes for legal maneuvers as well as underhanded politics.

I recommend this show, but only to those who don’t mind spending additional time watching television. Ideally, anyone who starts watching this show will stop watching something else.

Incidentally, tonight’s episode of The Good Wife had Michael J. Fox as a guest star and also included a subplot involving key-logging spyware. This is a very relevant subject for everyone who uses a computer. Chances are good that your computer has spyware installed on it, and that one of those spyware apps is a key logger.

I installed and ran the free version of Ad-Aware on my PC last Saturday, and it found a key logger on my system. Ad-Aware either deleted or disabled it for me. The key logging spyware got past my AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2011. I’m still not sure where it came from, or when it was installed. Both of these applications can be downloaded free at CNET’s download.com.

Ratings

The Good Wife is a highly-rated show, at least according to voters at IMDb and tv.com.

  • IMDb – 84/100 (last checked on Feb. 7, 2011)
  • tv.com – rated “great” – 88 (last checked on Feb. 7, 2011)

Resources – The Good Wife

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Computing Adventures: The ALL-CAPS Mystery

January 13, 2011 Leave a comment

primate typing

As I type, I frequently use the standard PC keyboard shortcuts (namely Ctrl-X, Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V) — just like any other writer, researcher, or post-prime nerd using a word processor such as Microsoft Word on a PC. Earlier this evening as I was editing a few blog posts and articles, my fingers slipped and I mashed several keys at once. It turned out to be a frightening error; subsequently, every letter I typed appeared on my screen in upper case. All of my textual alphabetical input was now showing up as capital letters.

Apparently, I’d accidentally turned the Caps-Lock on — right? Not the issue. Those ugly, LOUD, all-capital letters continued to appear on my monitor, no matter what I did.

typing, writing

Upon examining my keyboard more closely, I saw that the little Caps-Lock indicator light was not on. I toggled it on and off a couple of times, test-typing all the while, and to my absolute horror (that is, the sort of horror a writer might experience when a great idea comes to mind, and some unknown thing stands in the way of recording it), each letter I typed continued to SCREAM onto the screen in ALL CAPS!

I’m glad I happened to notice my sloppy finger slip. Even though I detected an inaccurate keystroke (in this case, the simultaneous mashing of multiple keys with a single stroke), I had absolutely no idea what combination of keys I had actually pressed. Therefore, I would be helpless to undo or adjust whatever setting I had inadvertently toggled on. I mean, botching a Ctrl-X shortcut means there’s no telling what happened.

typing class

I was surprised to see that even URLs — which are never written in all capital letters — were now appearing in ALL capital letters, even when I copied and pasted the URL from my browser’s address bar into my Word document. I have never seen such a thing happen on a computer, and I didn’t I expect it to happen to me as I enthusiastically transcribed my uniquely-inspired thoughts onto my black, soft, quiet, budget keyboard.

Speaking of black, soft, quiet, budget keyboards, I briefly wondered: Could it be some weird keyboard malfunction? No, it was not a sudden mechanical breakdown; not with that sloppy finger slip.

Had I simply stopped, breathed deeply, and considered the situation for a while, I might have figured it out on my own; however, impatience prevailed and I immediately Googled for the answer using the search terms…

all caps is off but still happening help all caps off

…and found the answer at The Daily Reviewer. As it turns out, my fingers had somehow found the unlikely Word shortcut which forces all letters to upper case, basically imitating the Caps-Lock setting. It was simple to turn off via the Format – Font menu choices.

Resources – The ALL-CAPS Mystery

The Daily ReviewerLaptop Typing in All Caps but Caps Lock Not On

Categories: Forgettable, Writing

Snowy America, Super Nova, and Other Questionable Digressions

January 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snowmerica and Climate
For the first time in decades (or who knows how long, really, as no specific record of this is kept), 49 of the 50 states, including Hawaii, currently have snow on the ground. Florida is the only state in the U.S. which does not presently have some lingering snow.

It comes to mind that some people might see this unusual condition as evidence against “global warming” — a rather misleading moniker; the words connote that the temperature will continue to increase everywhere on the planet, much like a greenhouse on a spring morning. In reality, some areas on Earth will get hotter and other places will get colder; this is due to the incredible complexity of global systems and the myriad intricate relationships and dependencies (e.g., the salinity of ocean and ocean currents) gradually being discovered.

There’s plenty of snow in Canada, of course. This morning, a 35 year-old barefoot man stole a snowplow and killed a policeman who’d been with the force for 11 years. The two-hour rampage through the streets of Toronto also included wrecking several cars and damaging a Ferrari dealership.

Oil Drilling Oversight: What a Shocker
Yesterday, the Oil Spill Commission released its findings on what happened after the spill, and how to ensure it never happens again.

While the commission predictably found blame with BP – along with contractors Halliburton and Transocean — it also found that government oversight was badly compromised. The commission found a classic, accounting-related transgression relating to excessively poor (if not completely lacking) internal controls: the agency in charge of promoting and marketing the expansion of oil drilling was also in charge of safety! Furthermore, its officials did not have the necessary experience, training, or budget to deal with the deep, high-tech installations they had to oversee, and there was an absence of proper planning (by private companies AND by the government) for what to do in case of a massive oil spill.

Earthquakes and Explosions
According to Nova, the catastrophic January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale (there are around 15 7.x earthquakes each year), released less than 40% of the energy that had built up along the newly-discovered fault (it wasn’t the initially-blamed Enriquillo fault’s fault) – meaning another powerful earthquake could occur at any time. The 2010 Haiti quake was one of many that made 2010 a near-record year for not only earthquakes, but natural disasters in general. (The number of worldwide natural disasters has quadrupled in the last two decades – an eye-opening statistic, but probably nothing more than a statistic; due to overpopulation and other factors, mankind is flocking to disaster-prone areas these days.)

Interestingly, earthquake sensors located throughout the U.S. detect an average of 50 explosions every day; these are mine blasts (this is mine seismology). About one explosion every two days is large enough to make their explosions listing.

Prolific, Super Nova

Nova, the popular science documentary television show now in its 38th season, has such a rarely-seen versatility that anyone could probably find quite a few topics of great personal interest in the impressive list of Nova episodes to date (since 1974). Nova is produced by WGBH in Boston — the same broadcasting service that produces more than two thirds of prime-time shows seen on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). (Is PBS relevant today?)

Resources – Interesting Wednesday

CNN: Snow is Now Present in 49 of 50 States
Barefoot Man Steals Snowplow and Kills Cop
U.S. Geological Survey – Earthquake Statistics
U.S. Geological Survey on Mining Seismology
List of Most Recent Earthquakes
Are earthquakes on the increase?
Nova
Nova (Wikipedia)
List of Nova episodes (Wikipedia)
PBS
WGBH (Wikipedia)
Scientists: Natural Disasters Becoming More Common
Oil Spill Commission – Final Report

Why Writing?

January 12, 2011 Leave a comment

writing, blogging in Nashville

There are plenty of writers out there. Why do I keep coming back to writing every single time I honestly evaluate my potential career options? It’s simple…

Apart from hiking and connecting with nature, reading and writing are my favorite things to do. A quick review of my to-do list reveals a large number of writing tasks.

My collection of writings is quite extensive, particularly when journaling is included in the mix.

writing and blogging in nashville, tennessee - stephen frasier

I thoroughly enjoy writing. At least half the time I spend on the computer, I end up writing material for blog posts, articles, or a possible book — regardless of my initial reason for sitting down in front of the computer in the first place. I have started writing no fewer than five (5) books, and two or three of them are relatively serious endeavors.

Compliments on writing have been received from a variety of readers, for which I am very grateful.

Writing seems to be one of my natural abilities, and among them all, it is the one that my heart tells me has the most potential.

Writing is far and away my favorite form of communication. I feel my writing is superior to most of my attempts at verbal communication!

For ten years now, my primary vocation has been the creation of web sites. Instead of gravitating toward the IT, graphics, and programming aspects of web design and development (as the technically oriented folks tend to do), it is very obvious – especially now, having been doing it for so long – that it is the writing and content generation factor that I enjoy so much – not the technical aspects.

In addition to having some of the positive qualities of a talented writer, some might say I possess one or two of the negative, stereotypical characteristics known to plague writers.

Writing it is!

Categories: Writing

From Classic Wordly Wise to Wordly Wise 3000

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

classic old Wordly Wise vocabulary covers from English class

Earlier today, I was trying to organize my main writing file (you know, that big Microsoft Word file [2011-writings.doc] I was telling you about, where I type all of my substantial emails, blog posts, articles, letters, opinion pieces, and so on; when finished, I just copy and paste the text into the body of an email I want to send, or into any other applicable text input scenarios…it’s a convenient way to save all writing for reuse, for later reading, to finish writing something later, to save various writings in one place, etc.). The file is large and unwieldy, and now contains other categories in addition to writings (e.g., lists of ideas, links of interest, subjects to write about later, etc.) — so I decided to create a TOC (Table of Contents) at the top of the document.

One of the newer sections recently appended to this document is “Words to Use” — a list of words that I come across (as I am reading books, blogs, articles, or whatever) that I am not familiar with, or don’t know as well as I’d like. It’s sort of a “new vocabulary” list; I type the word and then copy and paste the definition just below it (from the wonderful, frequently-visited dictionary.com) misbehaving in English class so I can learn it and/or hopefully use the word in an upcoming article — you know, so readers might assume I have a more impressive command of the English language than I actually do! I was thinking, “Surely I can come up with a better title for this section than ‘Words to Use,'” when I suddenly remembered that old English class staple: Wordly Wise. So, I googled Wordly Wise and was rather impressed upon finding and experimenting with Wordly Wise 3000 — an extensive, free, interactive vocabulary teaching tool for grades 1 to 12, online, free for anyone to use. (It even talks, pronouncing each word.) I thought you may want to become a vocabulary martinet (see below) and have the kids start using it! It’s definitely worth checking out. Here is the link:

Wordly Wise 3000 – Word Lists

Well, I just wanted to take this opportunity to be excessively verbose. Enjoy the snow day, and again, I regret missing Sarah’s game on Saturday due to an embarrassing shaving accident. I hope she’ll forgive me.

Love,
Your Brother

P.S. I hope this does not appear to be pure folderol (though I realize, it is); after all, this obdurate writer would prefer not to engage in endless emendations to facilitate the conveyance of these ridiculous ideas (see below – ha).

Words to Use

folderol
mere nonsense; foolish talk or ideas.

martinet
a strict disciplinarian, esp. a military one

emendations
edits, revisions, rewrites

ingénue
a female playing the part of an artless, innocent, unworldly girl or young woman, esp. as represented on the stage or in movies (I came across this word describing Jennifer Connelly after reading (even) more about JC after watching her starring role in Dark Water.)

obduracy, obdurate
(1) stubbornly persistent in wrongdoing; hardened in feelings (2) resistant to persuasion or softening influences

liminal
(1) of or relating to a sensory threshold; (2) barely perceptible; (3) of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition

skylark
to frolic; sport

anodyne
pain-killer; anything that relieves distress or pain