Saturday, 29 June 2013

08:53 – We have nearly all the chemicals and other components we need to make up another batch of 30 forensic science kits, so that’s what we’ll be doing this weekend, among other things. We also have most of what we need to put together another batch of 90 chemistry kits, so we’ll be working on that as well. And then another batch of 60 or 90 biology kits.


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27 Responses to Saturday, 29 June 2013

  1. Lynn McGuire says:

    We have nearly all the chemicals and other components we need to make up another batch of 30 forensic science kits, so that’s what we’ll be doing this weekend, among other things. We also have most of what we need to put together another batch of 90 chemistry kits, so we’ll be working on that as well. And then another batch of 60 or 90 biology kits.

    Poor Barbara. She’s gonna have bony fingers come Monday.

  2. OFD says:

    I would guess that they both wear latex gloves while handling all that stuff. And hopefully take breaks during the day.

    Another monsoon shower here just now after a partly sunny day; mowed the lawn yesterday, cleanup ops inside now, maybe some weed-whacking later. And apparently as golden retrievers age, they get more and more sensitive and nervous about electrical storms; neither one exhibited any of that as younger dogs, then the last one turned into a basket case his last year with us, and now this one is getting that way. NO MORE DOGZ HERE.

  3. SteveF says:

    Catz rool! Dogz eat stool!

  4. OFD says:

    There it is.

  5. Chuck W says:

    Although I am slowly moving some tasks off what has been my only computer for the last nearly 7 years, I still do a fair amount of audio work almost daily on the old dual core 2+ghz Intel laptop. I cannot express enough dissatisfaction with Firefox and what Mozilla has become. I understand Mozilla gets 90% of its funding from a tenuous arrangement with Google, but I think it is high time for Mozilla’s chief to move on. Not only has she not broadened Mozilla’s funding base, but she has cut back on its programming efforts, and it just does not turn out competent work anymore. Lawyers, like she is, seldom make effective managers—unless they had a career in management before becoming a lawyer. Time for her to retire, and let someone more experienced in managing code and developers give it a try–they cannot do worse on the fund-raising front than she has.

    And there is really no alternative to Firefox, outside of M$. Other browsers either already are based on Mozilla code—like Chrome (which my reliable sources tell me is about 2 years behind current Mozilla development)—or are moving to Mozilla code—like Opera is doing.

    Granted, I run XP, but Firefox on it has become a disaster on my system. And it shouldn’t be.

    If I reboot and open nothing but my audio applications, everything runs fine. Perfectly fine. But start Firefox, and hiccups in audio begin instantly. The prime problem is some milliseconds of complete silence or a few milliseconds of static while stuff is playing. If I am recording something, I can edit the silence out; but I really should not have to do that. It is not excessive disk activity that is causing this super-annoying halt, because 99% of the time when this happens, the HD is not even active. Close Firefox, and the hiccups remain. Never open Firefox and no problems whatever.

    Wonder if a return to IE is warranted?

    Meanwhile, I am playing around with an old—but still maintained—Winamp plug-in, called Stereo Tool, written by a guy in Holland. For years, I have used an audio processor DSP written by an Italian, but that device has not been in continuing development for many years, and Stereo Tool has been incorporating new technologies, like “declipper” to undo clipping that is now common in the mastering process in order to make CD’s sound loud. Stereo Tool is free, except for some of its more advanced technologies, like the declipper.

    Although our main audio processing at the radio project is done just prior to the transmitter, with a very expensive piece of audio hardware (think many thousands), it helps to have something in the editing process to mimic what the expensive one does, so we know what things will sound like on-air. Stereo Tool is an amazingly nifty program that is not far behind the best of professional audio processors. Although we tune our own, it has well over a dozen presets built-in for the uninitiated. The improved clarity that mature digital processing now brings is nothing short of astounding. Just listened to the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” in which the mix practically buries Mick’s vocals, and it not only brought out the vocal, but sharpened up the percussion almost unbelievably.

  6. jim` says:

    Lynn, you reminded me of a song I haven’t heard in ages. I’ll bet Cowboy Slim remember it!

    Work your fingers to the bone, what do you get? Bony fingers.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MBaGjVdaIk

  7. MrAtoz says:

    Only 117 in Vegas today. Mr. OFD got a job for a summer intern? Too frickin’ hot!

  8. OFD says:

    Chuck, just for laffs, try the latest IE; MY informed sources tell me it is much improved now. I have not been happy lately with Google’s stuff, nor with FF, nor with Tor, which crashed on me again the other night. And someone in the Tor “community” made the point that those of us who are security minded and/or paranoid may draw even more attention to ourselves by always finagling and tinkering with anti-spy sw on our systems; this was in reference to adjusting settings and configs on Tor to be more secure, but hell, simply using Tor is likely to light up somebody’s bulb somewhere.

    In a related matter I’d had Comodo Firewall, Avast and Viscosity running OK on this Windows 8 box and I made the probable mistake of installing and trying out the Windows 8.1 Preview. Once that finally was finally up (many hours later) the aforementioned sw appeared to stop running and clicking on the icons or executables did nothing. M$ Community advised me to run MSCONFIG and tick them off as “minimal” and then reboot; only problem there is you can’t run that to do that; it wants you to do it now via Task Manager, where a couple of the apps didn’t even show up. So next advice is to uninstall them and reinstall, which I just did, successfully.

    Back in the world again of M$ PITAs.

  9. OFD says:

    “Mr. OFD got a job for a summer intern?”

    Huh? Still outta work and collecting UI. Waiting on interminable background check for job that was offered to me ten days after being dumped. Mrs. OFD is in FL and comes back tomorrow; sez it was too hot to go outside; they hadda stay in with A-C there. Only intern-type job I know about is that I think darling Princess was supposed to be getting one in Berlin this summuh but I’ve heard nothing.

  10. Chuck W says:

    I need a firewall that tells me what program is communicating over the Internet with a way to halt it. I get pretty upset, somewhat regularly, when I glance down at the ‘network activity’ icon in the system tray (which was gone from Win8 on my netbook) and see it on solid when Outlook is not checking email, Firefox is closed, and I only have programs that don’t even have an option to communicate via the network (like Audacity) running. My experience with Linux is there is a LOT less of that stuff going on than in M$ boxen.

  11. OFD says:

    I have the same experience with Linux, Chuck, and wish that I could just run this whole operation here on it, but some stuff works great on it, and some stuff only works on Windows. Which is why Samba is still being developed. And Canonical keeps trying to be more like M$.

    Since my RHEL cluster sys admin gig went away, there are virtually no other places up here running Linux at enterprise level. And now there are hundreds more IT drones outta work again. Went through this repeatedly during the first decade of the century here.

    Now trying out the current Windows firewall and Windows Defender while still bouncing my net connections outside the country. Interestingly or not, they’re mainly in Germany and Switzerland. But I wouldn’t move to either place now; I’d consider Andorra, San Marino, maybe Austria.

  12. Marcelo Agosti says:

    “…that’s what we’ll be doing this weekend, …”

    I suppose it is only to provide context and for other’s conventions. You do not really have weekends in the modern understanding and use of the word, do you?

  13. Marcelo Agosti says:

    “Wonder if a return to IE is warranted?”

    I think that the highest you can go in Win-XP is IE8. It is not too bad but trails significantly behind the later versions of IE in speed and capabilities.
    I have dropped FF from being my preferred browser except when I go surfing to places with ads. Adblockplus does not have an add-on version that works in IE.

  14. Marcelo Agosti says:

    “I need a firewall that tells me what program is communicating over the Internet with a way to halt it.”

    Win8 is not the best platform to be running on to have low levels of unwarranted use of bandwidth. MS is now actively working on implementing always-on across all their products and that means that they will use your bandwidth as much as possible and will try not to interfere with your usage. Most other players are trying to do the same.
    “Metro” is especially bad at this. All those “nice” active tiles with weather, news, mail, etc are continuously searching for updated information. Windows update will periodically check and download updates in the background if you do not change defaults. The windows 8 apps will do the same unless you disable the behavior for each individually.
    You can mostly see who is using the network with Resource Monitoring. The easy way is via Task manager and then resource monitoring. I always start task manager every time I use Windows in any machine and will go to Resource Monitoring when I see unusual behavior.

  15. OFD says:

    Yes, TM and RM are worth checking regularly. And I get rid of apps in Metro that I don’t or won’t use.

    And I’m somewhat bitterly disappointed in Canonical/Ubuntu and not hearing great things about the latest Fedora, which, after all, is the experimental desktop version of RH. At this point I’m a full-bore agnostic on the o.s.; whatever works best with least aggravation to do what we have to do here.

  16. Lynn McGuire says:

    Well, we did not hit 106 F today in the Land of Sugar. Just 105 F. And we are going to be way cooler tomorrow, just 102 F. Felt fairly cool in the cement pond though even though it is up to 95 F.

    The wife was kind enough to give me a Charter Bulldog .44 special for my birthday. OK, so I bought it and gave to her a month ago to give to me. I am looking forward to going out and shooting it (while sweating in the summer heat). $399 at Academy:
    http://charterarms.com/products/Charter_Bulldog_74420.asp

  17. Miles_Teg says:

    Chuck wrote:

    “I need a firewall that tells me what program is communicating over the Internet with a way to halt it.”

    You could try SNORT if you get a cheap PC or laptop to run it on.

  18. OFD says:

    Agreed on Snort; dat’s a good ideer; believe I’ll hook up my ancient Toshiba laptop running Crunchbang accordingly.

  19. Lynn McGuire says:

    I need a firewall that tells me what program is communicating over the Internet with a way to halt it. I get pretty upset, somewhat regularly, when I glance down at the ‘network activity’ icon in the system tray (which was gone from Win8 on my netbook) and see it on solid when Outlook is not checking email, Firefox is closed, and I only have programs that don’t even have an option to communicate via the network (like Audacity) running.

    NSA. Here is a 1999 article about it, “How NSA access was built into Windows”:
    http://www.heise.de/tp/artikel/5/5263/1.html

    Just kidding. Maybe.

    There used to be a free program called ZoneAlarm ( http://www.zonealarm.com/ ) that allowed you specify which programs could talk to the intertubes. Not sure if there is a free version anymore.

  20. Roy Harvey says:

    I need a firewall that tells me what program is communicating over the Internet with a way to halt it.

    I run Zone Alarm (free version) and it knows exactly what connects and can block whatever you tell it to block. Now using it on W7, used to use it on XP.

    You could try SNORT if you get a cheap PC or laptop to run it on.

    Will a program running on another machine be able to tell you what application is making the connection?

  21. Miles_Teg says:

    SNORT is just part of the solution. I suggested it running on a second computer so that any malware running on the first couldn’t interfere with it.

  22. Chuck W says:

    I have never had any malware running on any of my computers since leaving ISDN dial-up for DSL a good 8 years ago. However, it’s scary to be running with only a few programs open—email and a couple audio programs—and see all this Internet activity happening. I used Zone Alarm back in the dial-up days, but cannot remember why it’s not on the computer now. I should give it a try again. Thanks for the suggestions.

  23. SteveF says:

    I have never had any malware running on any of my computers [for years]

    I always wince when I see an assertion like this. Especially when it’s followed by

    However, it’s scary to be running with only a few programs open—email and a couple audio programs—and see all this Internet activity happening.

    The most you can realistically say is that you haven’t noticed any malware. On the other hand, haven’t you previously said that you leave your browser open pretty much all the time, for weeks on end, with a dozen windows and twenty tabs in each? Periodic checks by scripts in the pages would explain a lot of traffic even if you haven’t done anything in the browser in a while.

  24. Chuck W says:

    Well, no virus software has yet found any kind of problem on my computers since I went to broadband—let’s put it that way. But the communication I see that is worrying happens when the browser is completely closed. Supposedly. I exit it, at least. When the browser windows are open, I expect that there will be refreshes for some of them. It is when there is a lot of activity and I have only Outlook and a couple programs that do not even use the Internet that gets me. Still, the virus programs report nothing found.

    As for having lots of browser windows open—not since quite a few versions back on Firefox. Around 5 windows with multiple tabs in each and it brings this dual core to its knees. Back around FF v3 or 4, I could have 30 windows, each with 15 or so tabs open, and it did not affect operations at all. No more.

    I do run 24/7 and have since Windows began. But often I shut Firefox down for the overnight. I am the only person in the family who ever runs 24/7. TV training I guess. When you have a control room with 30 monitors, shut them down during periods of non-use, then 5 of them don’t come up when powered on, there becomes a kind of universal agreement that 24/7 is a good idea. Only at University did they shut the studios completely down. Campus policy.

  25. Ray Thompson says:

    Mr. Chuck. Our primary video switcher at the church died and will no longer function. Our first indication was the control surface power supply went out. A new power supply (damn they are proud of them judging by the cost) and control surface will power up. But the main switching module no longer responds. The system is a Ross switcher.

    I want to replace it with a NewTek Tricaster 455. It has all we need plus a lot more. I do need Genlock and I do need Tally for the cameras. The 455 is the lowest level that has both of those options.

    We looked at putting another Ross system but we would be lacking graphics. The NewTek has graphics, displays virtual screens on dual monitors, local and network storage, streaming that we want to pursue.

    http://www.newtek.com/products/tricaster-455.html

    So what is your impression of the Newtek switchers?

  26. Roy Harvey says:

    You might try unplugging the network cable when you are done and see what (if anything) complains about not having a connection.

    One of the things that should access the net at least once a day is the anti-virus program itself. There is usually a daily time check for what that is worth. I believe my Zone Alarm firewall makes occasional checks for updates. I know I have Secunia PSI running (2.0, much easier to manage and control) which gets occasional updates. I have Windows Update set to tell me about (but not download or install) updates to Windows and other Microsoft products.

    One thing I do is start Windows Task Manager right after I reboot. On the Processes tab I choose Show processes from all users, then go to the Networking tab which displays network activity. (Until I visit the Network tab it does not seem to start gathering network activity for the graph.)

  27. Chuck W says:

    Unfortunately, I have only set foot in editing suites for the last 10 years, so I am not up on studio control hardware anymore. Ross has always been bottom of the line equipment, mostly used in industrial and educational applications. Grass Valley is super-top of the line, but probably out of your budget. My off-hand uninformed opinion is that Ross could not be that much better than NewTek. There are guys who could tear that Ross apart and find the problem, though. Unless the old power supply spiked and blew multiple parts, it is probably repairable. Cheap capacitors are a problem in lots of lesser expensive equipment, as they go easily. In the audio world, there is an affection for older analog equipment, and guys take processors and change all the caps and adjustment controls to bring them back to factory spec.

    As for gen-lock, I would rather use a good TBC to lock whatever needs syncing to the house sync, rather than locking the whole studio to something out-of-house. That is now pretty much standard in the modern age. Back in the ’70’s, we used to gen-lock to the network (CBS) so we could do Chiron overlays during bad weather and important local news updates. It never failed that about 50% of the time, somebody would forget to take us out of genlock, and—although the networks, especially CBS, were top-notch on the tech side—prime time was actually the output of the WCBS air switcher in New York. But during the breaks before and after the Cronkite news, they would switch to the news studio, and it was on an independent sync generator than the one from WCBS. Watching an entire station and everything in it lose sync is almost as frightening as seeing lightning strike in front of you. Back in those days, videotape playback was from analog quadruplex head 2-inch tape machines. When they lost sync, it could take as much as 7 seconds to recover. That would blow any commercial that was playing and require a make-good.

    But were it me, I sure would not feel tied to Ross. The hazard of this kind of equipment is that makers have terrific mark-ups—far more than normal retail goods. A good audio processor might have $150 worth of parts in it, and maybe another couple hundred in assembly, but the makers then sell it for $11 to 15k, because the market is so limited. Old line companies (Ross has been around for an awfully long time) may not be as flexible on price as newcomers.

    Also, were it me, I would try to visit a place using a NewTek switcher, just to reassure myself that it is reliable and will do what I need to have it do. Either that, or have a backup plan, in case the NewTek is not all it claims itself to be. Like I say, that Ross should be repairable, but probably by an old-timer, and not a new tech, used to replacing modules, instead of troubleshooting and replacing bad circuit board parts.

    Sorry it took so long to answer. I am out of the ‘office’ several days this week and just got back from today’s outing.

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