Windows 8.1 Box Nearly Ready to Roar

I’ve been plugging away bit by bit over the last several days installing programs on my new Windows 8.1 tower, and backing up and transferring documents, photos, videos, music and email.

Yes, I’m one of those holdouts who still likes to store copies of email on a local machine. I have email archives going back some 20 years. I’ve been on Gmail for many years, but the way I work my email setup is to have a server host my personal and business email accounts. That server then forwards everything to Gmail, and Gmail in turn forwards everything to my local Shaw ISP. I thus have access to all my messages in three stages: I could log into the hosted server, which I rarely bother to do except to empty its spam folder a few times a year. I can access all my mail via Gmail. And I download all my email from Shaw using Thunderbird.

This setup also ensures that I get very little spam, since it is filtered by my server host, by Gmail, and by Tbird.

Creepy Consumerism

Now and then I’m hit with a creepy feeling of being on the set of a horror movie in which beasts are ravenously consuming everything in their path. The feeling is reminiscent of the short story read in school “Leiningen Versus the Ants” in which a plantation owner battles columns of army ants that are obliterating every living thing in their path. The other classic reference is to locusts. Masses of locusts.

The feeling hit me a few days ago in the cafeteria at the huge IKEA store in Coquitlam, BC.

The previous time that I felt such a wave of near revulsion was at a WalMart Superstore.

In each case I felt overwhelmed by excessive consumption. I was part of it, to be sure, but that just exacerbated my squeamishness with guilt.

In the IKEA situation, it was the steady flow of people through the cafeteria, chowing down on thousands upon thousands of meatballs, fish sticks, and tons of potatoes––mashed and French fried––not to mention the gallons of gravy. I envisioned how many times this scene was being replicated at IKEA stores around the world. Repeated day after day.

As for WalMart, it was a woman with not one, but two shopping carts stacked to overflowing, hyperventilating on a shopper’s high. She was near incoherent with consumption-induced euphoria, babbling to nobody in particular about the “deals” she was getting. I envisioned how many times this scene was being replicated at WalMart stores around the world. Repeated day after day.

I don’t mean to single out the above two companies. Choose your poison. We could add Costco and most any other major supermarket chain to the mix. Remember when Canadian Tire, was, um tires and other automotive stuff? Have you been to any of the new two-story monsters recently? Just another superstore with tires and batteries on the side.

I understand this all provides jobs. I understand that we live in a consumer-driven economy. What I don’t understand is how we can keep this up in the long run. Our national economy, our global economy, is a pyramid scheme that is dependent upon endless growth. Pyramid schemes are illegal, and doomed to failure with some poor sap eventually left holding the empty bag. That sap may be all of us.

Setting up New Windows 8.1 Tower Computer

I am typing this on my new Windows 8.1 tower computer, a custom box I configured and bought from NCIX in Burnaby, BC.

As mentioned in previous posts, my Windows 7 tower suffered a bad bout of malware awhile back that took several anti-virus programs and some manual tweaking to clean up. It was starting to show its age, anyway, and some tasks like video editing were very slow with its 6GB of RAM and a 512K video card.

The new machine has 16GB of RAM and a 2GB video card, along with an 8-core 3.5GHz processor, so that should make an appreciable difference.

I haven’t found Windows 8.1 to be as much of an interface challenge as I had feared. I’d read horror stories about folks complaining about the Windows 8 touch/tile interface, but 8.1 has made it easier to go back to an interface relatively familiar to users of Windows 7 and previous versions.

I’ve already got Office 365 installed, and a few favorite apps that I use daily, such as ClipMate, Evernote, and IrfanView.

I have yet to get many programs installed such as the Adobe Suite, etc. I’ll chip away at it bit by bit over the next few days, while keeping the old box running side by side on the network. I also need to transfer all my files and photos, but I’ve got all those synced to a NAS (network attached storage) unit on my network anyway.

Paul’s Photo Tips — Tip 5 — Take Lots of Photos

Take Lots of Photos

Shoot shoot shoot. You learn by doing, so do.

Take photos from different angles, try different exposures, move closer up, move farther away. Experiment with faster and slower shutter speeds, and larger and smaller apertures. Try some at wide angle, try some at telephoto. Try some with flash, some without. Try fill-in flash.

If you don’t want to lug a DSLR around all the time, carry a pocket camera all the time and take photos here, there, and everywhere. Practice gets you closer to perfect.

In the old days of film, every shot cost. Cost for film, cost for developing, cost for printing. The first two costs are now minimal, though you can still spend a lot on printing.

With digital, you can take thousands of photos for less than a penny to at most two or three cents per shot – and those pennies are reusable.

Examples of card prices taken from the NCIX website today:

32GB MicroSDHC Class 10 C$15.99

64GB MicroSDHC Class 10 C$28.99

On a 24-megapixel camera set to RAW + JPEG, 32GB gets you over 700 shots. So fire away, and then delete and edit later.

This is not to say that you should mindlessly bang away on your shutter button. You should still compose and expose each photo as best you can, just don’t be reticent about taking lots of different views with different settings.

Streamkeeper Training in North Vancouver

I attended a one-day streamkeeper training course in North Vancouver hosted by the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation. We covered modules 2, 3, and 4 from the Streamkeepers Handbook.

I figured it was about time I had a refresher, since it must be around ten years ago that I originally took the training.

It was a lovely, sunny day, and a great group of people.

You can check out some photos I took in this Flickr album.

Streamkeeper training North Vancouver

Installed Dual-Flush Toilet

A couple of years back I installed a dual-flush toilet in our basement bathroom, and it’s worked well. So recently we began keeping an eye out for dual-flushers on sale, and spotted a model that we liked at Lowes on sale from $269 to $169. We bought two, for the upstairs bathrooms.

Today I installed one, and by the time I was done, I was soaked with sweat. It’s not that hot, but it must be humid, because by the third trip up/down the stairs from the garage to the top floor, I was dripping. Disconnected, disassembled and hauled down an old toilet, and carried up, assembled and connected a new one.

Thought one was enough for today, as I have to be careful with my fused back. Do the other one later in the week.

Sockeye Fishing on Fraser River

Caught two sockeye on the Fraser River today – the recreational daily limit. Large one just over 7-1/2 pounds, smaller one about a pound less. Cut the bigger one into two “roasts” and a couple of fillets, and the smaller one into cross-cut, bone-on-center, inch-thick steakettes for salting and freezing for Japanese-style broiled breakfast pieces. Thank you sockeye for your sustenance.

And thanks to my cousin who invited me out in his boat,  rigged me up properly, and taught me how to bottom bounce for sockeye!

paul holding sockeye salmon

Streamkeeping, sustainability, community, business, photography, books, and animals, with occasional forays into social commentary. Text and Photos © Paul Cipywnyk