Monthly Archive: May 2009

Don’t Take Online Quizzes

This is from the haven of computer geeks,

The Hidden Secrets of Online Quizzes

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday May 14, @09:32AM
from the i-thought-it-just-cluttered-my-facebook dept.
LegionKK points out a story on PC World, sending along this excerpt: “Ultimately, deciding whether you should take an online quiz comes down to a question of trust: Are you comfortable putting your information — personal or financial — into the owner’s hands? Remember, even if you don’t directly input data, it can be passed along. Such is the case with Facebook, where just opening an application automatically grants its developer access to your entire profile. And don’t assume that the developer isn’t going to use the information within. […] The ads can follow you long after you click away, too. Just look at RealAge, a detailed quiz that assigns you a ‘biological age’ based on your family history and health habits. The site, a recent investigation revealed, takes your most sensitive answers — those about sexual difficulties, say, or signs of depression — and sells them to drug companies looking to market medications.”

More Serendipity

OK, so I bought a new computer just in time.  This one’s more personal.

I was lying in bed last night, listening to the BBC on the local NPR station trying to go to sleep.  They were running an article about an American art museum, where the owner had gotten tired of the edgy, upsetting art that is in vogue these days and wanted to find something simpler, more uplifting.  He found such an artist in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  I’m not sure I heard much more of the article.

It got me thinking of my college days at Sterling College in Kansas (1970-72).  We had 6 Ethiopian exchange students, all men.  The nicest of them, and the one I was closest to, was Jerman Disasa.  I had not thought of him, probably since I left school in 1972, but I found myself thinking of him now.  Me being me, I couldn’t stay in bed, but had to go check the Internet to see if he had any mentions.

Here’s the spooky part.  Apparently he is still the sunshiney, wonderful man he was then, and there were many student blogs calling him the finest man on the planet.  Student blogs.  About Dr. Jerman Disasa, Director of Special Services.  At Presbyterian College.  In Clinton, SC.  About 3 hours away by car.  I couldn’t believe it.

I commented on two blogs and a website, then stumbled on his actual email.  I wrote him.  This morning, he wrote back.  Jerman said he was glad to hear from me; he had been a bit depressed lately, because another of his friends had died recently and he couldn’t get to Kansas to attend the funeral.  My writing him just then lifted his spirits.

I don’t think any more needs to be said.  This was just spooky, in the best possible way.  I’m so glad to have reconnected with this quality person; I hope he wants to continue the connection after he reads a bit about what I have become through my websites.  He has already said he’d like to come visit.



I had been fighting with myself for a few days about buying another computer.  I love running Linux, my old computer doesn’t like it, so I get another computer and network them, right?  Well, I found a steal, a P-4 2.6 GHz Gateway business-class tower for $75.  I even had to tell them I didn’t need the monitor.

I got it home.  Just sat it on the floor.  Two hours later, my machine, which I had just restocked (see earlier blog), died.

I had all the clues, especially the SpeedFan reading saying that the COOLEST my computer’s processor ever got was 63 degrees Celsius… and the specs website which stated that its MAX temperature was 62…  So basically, the processor’s heat sink was one big dust-bunny and, therefore, there was no airflow around the processor from the fan, and it just slowly died of overheating.

Another 8 hours later, I had the new computer up and running with all my software.  It’s about 33% slower than my old machine, and is limping along on 0.5 Gb of RAM besides (I ordered more for it before the old machine died), but it is running XP Pro instead of Home, and at least I have a running computer.  I keep all my important files on an external hard drive, so I didn’t lose anything.  And my friend John has already bought me a new processor for the old machine, and won’t tell me how much it cost (it has yet to arrive).  If I hadn’t bought the new computer, I’d truly be freaking out.

I did try installing Linux on the new machine.  It runs WUBI fine, but doesn’t download the ISO.  I think it’s a lack of RAM… but won’t be able to test that theory until I have more.

Stay tuned for The Resurrection.

Me, the Computer Geek

New Anti-malware

If you don’t have a favorite anti-virus and anti-spyware program yet… you may want to check this out… 

Most people have two separate programs for anti-virus and anti-spyware.  I admit I have a favorite, AVG Anti-Malware, that does both at the same time, but it’s a paid program ($42.99 for 2 years, although I usually get a discount)…  up until now, I have not known about a FREE combined program.  (The advantage of a combined program is that you only do one scan and get both viruses and spyware eliminated, instead of running two programs.)

Well, there is now, and it’s from a reputable company in Austria.  The only downside I can see is that they don’t actually speak English — their website reads as if it were translated by a babelfish.  If you’re interested, go to this website and get “a-squared Anti-Malware”.

Download from

Of course nobody who knows me has a clue about why I love this website…

Ahhhh, Recovery

My computer has been limping along in a near-failed state for over a week now.  Well, yesterday I finally got the last piece I needed, a new installation disk for my DSL modem.  (For what good is a working computer with no Internet?)

I will say that someone at Microsoft China had been giving me some help in restoring the system the way it was, but sadly it was not working.  So yesterday I began the long, arduous process of Installing The System From Original Installation Disks.

Step 1 – insert each of 11 disks in turn, including re-inserting a couple of them a few times before the system actually sees that, yes, that IS the disk it is looking for.  Takes about an hour, then takes another hour or two installing the new information and rebooting several times.

Step 2 – Turn the computer on and do MORE initialization stuff.  Can take an hour or more, and MAY hang on you in mid-process, forcing you to start over (did not happen this time)

Step 3 – Go to Windows Update and load the Update Software, Latest Service Pack, etc. — and when you’re done, reboot and do it again, because it never gets ALL the updates.

Step 4 – Load your peripheral software — Mouse, Keyboard, Printer (if you use a standard mouse and keyboard, you won’t need that.  If you use an HP printer, you probably won’t need this step at all.)

Now you are ready for Steps 5 and 6

Step 4 – Delete all the Crapware included with the computer — Norton, AOL, MSN, all the stupid games that never work, and all the HP software that you’ll never use (printers, updates (because they are no longer supported on your old machine), ads for service agreements that they no longer honor, etc.)

Step 5 – Load your old software.  I start with AVG, then Firefox.  I keep all the downloaded installation files of the programs I use on an external hard drive (where I also keep all my documents, pictures, music, etc., so I don’t lose it when the computer goes belly-up).  Keep going until you’re done.

I started this process around 9 pm last night.  I finished around 8 am this morning.  At least I think I’m finished.

But my Baby is ALL HEALED NOW.  It was worth it.  I slept well, for the first time in over a week.



OK, so I haven’t posted lately.  I’ve been a very, very busy man.  Asheville Homeless Network stuff has been happening faster than I can keep up with, and my usual meetings and appointments.  I have a therapist appointment tomorrow, followed by a mental health advisory committee meeting…

I once again tried to install Ubuntu (new version) on my computer, and once again had bad things happen.  Right now my Windows is handicapped.  I will have to totally install the system (and all the software I’ve added) all over again, and I can’t find my DSL modem software.  I have a friend with the same modem who will let me borrow his disk, but we’re both too busy to get to each other.  So until that happens, I will either be using an unprotected machine or will be running Ubuntu Live (i.e., loaded directly from the disk), unless I can manage to get WUBI to load another copy of Ubuntu 8.04 on here… which is the last version that actually worked with sound, although it hasn’t lately.  A lot of things that are supposed to run don’t, because some important piece of Windoze is missing.  A Microsoft employee said she would help me with it, and gave me some tests to run… and it has been over 24 hours since I gave her the result of those tests, with no response from her.

Good thing I don’t have a car.  With my luck, it, too, would be broken down.  My girlfriend’s car certainly is, and I haven’t seen her for almost 2 weeks.

My life is wonderful, just has some jagged edges right now.  Not all my friends are doing any better than I am, but each have their high points and low points.

Ah well.  Without writing a book, I couldn’t even begin to describe any more.