Monday, September 17, 2012

Computer Maintenance for better performance

I see some folks are commenting on FaceBook about log on issues and slow running computers so I thought I'd pass on a few tips I've picked up along the way.  There are many things you can do to lighten the load on your CPU and pick up speed as when your computer was new.

Things I do daily:

1.  Clear the browsing history.  On the home page find the tool bar that looks like this:
File   Edit   Favorites   Tools   Help
Click on Tools and look for Delete Browsing History.  A window opens up showing several categories to check.  Check all the boxes Esp. Active X Filtering and protection Data.
Click Delete.  Some operating systems show a pop up window while deleting, while others do not.  If you see a window performing the delete, you will know it's completed when the window closes.  On Vista, you won't see anything while it's deleting, until it's done, then a box pops up telling you browsing history is complete.  If you brows a lot, do it daily.

2.  Disk Cleanup  Again, depending on your operating system, the procedure may vary.  When you click on Start, you may see procedures that you do frequently.  Look for Disk Cleanup.  A sure fire way is to click start and select control panel.  Look for System Maintenance and disk cleanup or free up disk space.  Some systems start the procedure right away, while others, you may have to give authorization by clicking continue, then clear C disk.  If you have not done it in a while, it will take some time while it looks about on your hard drive.  When you see a window open up showing the many categories of things to delete, click OK.  Then a box will open asking you to delete.  Click OK, and it should whisk away all files you don't need any longer.  When you browse, many temp files browsing cookies are picked up, as well as error dump files and more.  They will clog up things after a while, slowing your performance up.  I do it daily, but even once a week should help dramatically.

Periodic Maintenance:
Disk Defragmentation;  This maneuver, moves files around on your hard drive, compressing them, resulting in making more wiggle room on your hard drive.
Click on start menu, then Computer.Single click Local Disk C and look for properties (not system properties!)That opens a window to show you the pie shaped graph, indicating how much used and free space your hard drive has.  Click on Tools, opening up a window with different options.  Look for defragment now and click.  The analysis takes a while, so be patient!  Then a box opens showing how much space you will save by defragmenting.  If you gain no extra space, close out.  My Vista operating system is configured to perform defragmentation periodically, so I don't usually have to do this.

Updates:  I've heard the pros and cons from many experts that you should not get updates from Windows and Microsoft.  My theory?  The updates are configured to keep up with security breaches to stay ahead of hackers.  I highly recommend getting them.  Click on the start menu, then all programs.  Look for Windows Updates and click on it.  It automatically goes to the Windows web site and checks your system to see if any updates are in order. A window may open giving the option: Express or Custom.  Click Custom and it searches.  If it tells you high priority updates are available, click on install.  On the same web site, look for Microsoft Updates and do the same.  Also on the same site, you can configure your system to automatically get them.  Some updates are optional and you can pick and choose whether or not to get them.  For example, if an update is titled Fax and Modem update, and you do not use a fax, then you don't need that update.

ToolBars:  A good friend of mine who fixes computers professionally, told me he does not let them get downloaded and they use a lot of unnecessary energy.  They seem convenient, but I limit their use with a grain of salt.

Freeware:  Any downloads, whether drivers, widgets, etc.  are to be taken with suspicion.  Look carefully while installing new free software, for it will almost surely download malicious problems.  Get used to looking in Control Panel under uninstall programs and try to recognize all the programs you have.  After you download a new program, look in the control panel and make sure you are not getting more programs than you anticipated.  the real ugly ones can enbedd themselves deep and be difficult to remove!

Don't skimp on your antivirus protection.  You've heard the saying, "You get what you pay for" and it's true here.  I know there are some free ones, but I'd check into them carefully.  I've used McAfee for a few years now and it's worth every buck.

When you update your browser to the latest version, again, watch to make sure they are not dumping useless tool bars you don't need.  Learn how to customize your browser home page to utilize only what you use, not junk you don't, for things you seldom use can clog up your operating system before you know it!

Desktop Icons:  They can be convenient short cuts, but only keep the ones you use frequently.  Remember, if you delete a desk top icon, you are merely deleting the short cut, not the program entirely.

Backup Systems:  When i bought my computer five years ago, the configured backup was partitioned on the hard drive.  The main problem with it is, if your hard drive goes south, so does your backup system!  Your hard drive should really have no partitions.  Use an external hard drive for backup or even flash drives. They are cheap and come with an amazing amount of capacity now.  If you choose to back up on flash or pen drives, you will have to remember to do that on a regular basis, such as once a week.  You only need keep the latest back up.  Delete the outdated backup, then backup on the flash drive.

That should take care of many common problems that slow you down over time!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We Will Never Forget

We all know this iconic image.  Marking the anniversary of what we simply title "9/11" we again see the posters and banners proclaiming "We Will Never Forget" 
This same scenario has repeated itself countless times over the centuries since man has roamed the earth.  The repetition is bound to rear it's ugly head again and again, till there's nothing or nobody left to blow up. 
Here's another example of hatred at it's peak; a scene from one of the Nazi Death Camps.  Another "We Will Never Forget" tragedy. 
Hatred knows no boundry; It's part of human nature.  We were given a rule book to live by, but nobody bothers with it.  Our rules of life are so simple, yet seemingly impossible to obey. 
When a terrible tragedy occurs to a people, we are great at responding with patriotic fashion.  Our way of preserving the tragedy is to exercise the mentality of "We Will Never Forget", in order to keep the flame alive of the memory of the people lost in the initiation.
We have come to the conclusion that history repeats itself, yet we can't recognize the nucleus behind why.  The why is as simple and plain as the nose on our face.  We fail to "Forgive"  Forgiveness is one of the most complicated commandments to obey. 
Here's yet another example of hatred and evil at work;  The "Day of Infamy"  I know people to this day that still utter the phrase "We will Never Forget"  over that day and the war that was to end all wars.  The Great War.  What exactly was so great about it?  Was it because we all turned to and returned the violence with the same till our ennimies were defeated?
One last iconic image and I'm sure there are those to this day who still use the "We Will Never Forget" phrase in response to our very own Civil War.

It's OK to remember and honor the memory of those who were taken from us.  But until we can come to the realization that the evil will continue to perservere until we learn to "Forgive" the hatred will remain King of the Hill.

Eggplant Parm

We're enjoying our fresh produce out of our gardens and last night we had eggplant.
I started by making sauce. 

1 Onion chopped
3 cloves Garlic
Olive Oil not extra virgin
1 Qt jar of our fresh Tomato Puree
1 Sm can Paste
2 Carrots cut up
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 Cup fresh picked Basil
1/4 Cup fresh picked Parsley
Tbs Oregano (I only had dried)
1/4 Cup Red Wine
1 Cayenne Pepper chopped
1 Tsp each Salt & Pepper

Start by heating the Olive Oil in a med sauce pan.  Add Onion & Garlic.  Saute to golden.
Add Puree and Paste.  Once it just starts to boil, add the remaining ingredients.  Simmer over very low heat for at least two hours;  The longer, the better.

Now for the Eggplant, fresh picked from the garden.  Wash and slice thin.  I leave the skin on.  In one bowl, beat two eggs.  In another bowl, combine 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs (We like Whole Wheat Panko), 1/3 Cup Grated Romano/Parm Cheese, 1/2 Tsp Salt, Pepper, Cayenne Pepper.  I add other spices too sometimes such as Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cinnamon, use your imagination!

In a big fry pan, heat up Olive Oil (Not Extra Virgin, for it will burn)
Dip sliced Eggplant in egg, then the breadcrumb mix and into the fry pan.  Fry for about 2 minutes and turn when you see it golden brown underneath.  It frys fast.  Drain on paper towels.

I used a glass bread pan to make the cassorole.  Heat oven to 350.
Ladle some sauce on the bottom of the pan and place the eggplant in a single layer over the sauce.  Sprinkle grated cheese.  Continue with the next layers till the pan is almost to the top.  Leave some room for bubbling and bake for 45 minutes to one hour.

Enjoy with a green salad and glass of wine!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Kitty Adventures in our Gardens

We love our gardens and really enjoy creating an inviting environment for the wildlife in the city.
Between our three bird feeders and now with the big sunflowers in the gardens, the birds eat well.  The bees are very happy here with the inexhaustible variety of flowers to choose from, and let us not forget our buddies, the Butterflies.  Between the flowers and the veggies, fruits, and bushes, we've created a haven.

We also have a Momma feral cat residing back here for the last two years that we know of.

Here's our inside room mate, Angevine, who is soon to be two years old.  We brought her in after Momma Puddy left her in our back stoop.

  Here's Momma Puddy, this past May, under the bird bath. 

She's raising a litter of four kittens now, and we see them scampering about the gardens, now that they are older.

This morning, two were up on our back porch, napping and taking in the views!