Category Archives: Bloggers

Grouping of member specific posts

History Mapping Using Google Earth with Marilyn Cummings

By Lon Hosford

Marilyn Cummings presented work she has been doing over the last few years on mapping Hunterdon County Using Google Earth. She diligently showed the specific features that she used in the Google Earth designer tools: the pin tool, the polygon tool, the linear line tool and layers.

Layers represent a topic you want to map such as ancient cities. Layers contain pins and shapes you want to overlay on a map.

The pin tool allows you marks spots with information about a location, the polygon tool allows you to outline areas on the map and the linear line tool allows you to draw lines from one place on the map to another.

Marilyn said she is not a techie. But she was very skilled in her specific use of Google Earth.

Marilyn uses the layers for various historical topics. She gathers information about that topic marks it on the map using one of the tools. Then a KML file (Keyhole Markup File) is generated that Google Earth uses.

Then she proceeded through the map layers she has created for Hunterdon County. She had many. It looked like several dozen layers. One she demonstrated was Delaware Township. For example she showed the preserved acres in Delaware Township.

Interesting the layering has the ability to show history. So you can see the changes over time of the various layers. In the case of the layer for Delaware Township’s preserved land, you could see as the land was moved to preserved status for specific times.

Another item that she showed was the history of the various Ferry Boats along the Delaware River over time. There were many at one time. She claimed that many changed names and the ownership  moved from one Ferry service to another as you could imagine.

Other Google Earth layers included Native Indian camp sites, geological topography, boundaries of Hunterdon County, historic buildings, old roads and just about anything. Glynn Gillette suggested mapping Radon and Marilyn thought that was a great idea.

She is currently working on history of Hunterdon from the 1800’s. She started way back when the County was founded. Interesting to see was that Hunterdon County was really once West Jersey in today’s terms and had seven land owners. It followed the Delaware River all the way to New York State and down past Trenton.

Marilyn wants to take this process she created to the world. She created the website History Mapping to provide more information on this project. You can join at the site and keep up to date on progress and become a resource for the research. She mentioned for example she has an associate working on Alexandria Township. She has contacted Google but they did not respond despite to registered letters. She has contacted Wikipedia Foundation and they responded but only to point her to their “proposed projects” page.

Overall Marilyn is a pioneer as well as an evangelist for establishing the data structures and best practices for mapping the History of the Earth and the Club members reported a very positive experience.

FCC Network Neutrality Regulations Overturned

By Lon Hosford

The 6 year battle over Net Neutrality continues. Federal Courts on January 14th, 2014 struck down the laws put into place by President Obama’s first FCC (Federal Communication Commission) chairman, Julius Genachowski. Actually this was a topic that can go back to the 1980s.

Bottom line is that the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) wants control over internet providers like they have over telephone companies where if you look at your phone bill is loaded with taxes.

Internet providers what to control what flows over their networks and even charge information provider companies like Google to use them.

This may explain a bit why you see Google trying to build its own wifi and networks as the risk is there they may have to give up their riches to internet providers.

I gave a presentation to the Hunterdon Computer Club in 2010 on the FCC and how they were trying to control “information services” as “telecommunication service”.

The FCC is one of those Congressional House of Representative responsibilities delegated to a “Agency” like the currency responsibility is delegated the Federal Reserve.

To do that Congress wrote statutes for the FCC to follow.

These very powerful “Agency” heads are basically an extension of Congress and need to follow the statutes governing them and every so often you see them report to a Congressional Committee because of the nature of that relationship.

Those Statutes block the FCC from controlling “information services”. You get into all types of Free Speech issues with this. Should your internet provider choose what information services you get by charging them a fee? Would that reduce your internet bill? Would the FCC get control to regulate increase your Internet bill with new taxes whenever Congress needs to find a inconspicuous place to stick them to you? Would the FCC use this to suppress free speech or argue certain groups should be allowed free access because of political reasons or charge taxes to others for the same reason? Lots of questions but it boils down to free markets versus controlled markets.

You can read the full article on the court ruling and get more details at Court Strikes Down Net Neutrality by Brendan Sasso at the National Journal.

Blog article I wrote on this January 2010: Nerdaucrat Government Run Internet on Its Way which has a great video interview with Julius Genachowski as well as a link to a radio show from where Mark Fowler, the FCC Chairman under Ronald Reagan comments on this.

Replacing Avira Free with Microsoft Security Essentials on Vista

By Lon Hosford

My log of installing Microsoft Security Essentials to replace Avira Free.


I had Avira installed on a Toshiba Satellite A305 S6837 laptop vintage 2008 running Windows Visa Ultimate. I was frustrated with the constant Avira popups especially on booting. I decided to install Microsoft Security Essentials after it being discussed by Bruce Arnold during the November 2013 club meeting Q&A.


First I downloaded Microsoft Security Essentials. Be sure you do not confuse that with Windows Essentials which includes various programs such as Photo Galleries and Movie Editing.

The download was the usual EXE file and I put it on the Desktop.

Removing Avira

Next I went to the Windows Control Panel to remove Avira. I was using Control Panel in Classic View. You use the Program and Features icon.

At the end of the uninstall, Avira opened my web browser asking me for my reason for removing it. So where would I be very vulnerable at the time I have no anti-virus? Well yes when opening a web browser which may be set to reopen tabs from last session. Avira cannot be considered a serious anti-virus company if they have not thought about how they could expose a user’s computer when they uninstall their product for their own needs to collect data. I quickly killed the browser.

Avira also informs you with a desktop window to restart the computer to remove all of its files. This I did.

Running Microsoft Security Essentials Installer Program

After the reboot, I launched the Microsoft Security Essentials installer program. It proceeded nicely. It did warn me about uninstalling other anti-virus programs. The information screen did not list any and you can see they were going to leave it up to you to know if any installed.

The Microsoft Security Essentials installer then had me reboot which I expected.

Reboot to Complete Microsoft Security Essentials Installation?

On the second boot, I got a information bubble on the task bar that I had more than one anti virus program running. I think it was over the Windows Defender icon, but I did not catch if that was true. Meantime I saw the Microsoft Security Essentials icon on the task bar and it has a circular activity indicator running. That was showing that it was doing something. I double clicked that icon and it opened the Microsoft Security Essentials program where you could see the progress of a Quick Scan. Eventually the Quick Scan did not reveal any issues or at least there was nothing shown.

Windows Defender Disabled

Meantime I wanted to run down the issue of more than one anti virus program running but could not find a place in the Windows Security Center showing that. Then I noticed a menu choice for Windows Defender. I clicked it and it showed that Windows Defender is turned off. With further research it turns out Windows Security Essentials turns off Windows Defender. I found a Q&A item at the Microsoft Community under Virus and Malware: Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials on Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP that stated

Q: Is Microsoft Security Essentials (XP/Vista/7)designed to replace Windows Defender?
A: No but if you are running Microsoft Security Essentials, you do not need to run Windows Defender. Microsoft Security Essentials is designed to disable Windows Defender in order to manage the PC’s real-time protection, including anti-virus, rootkits, Trojans and spyware.

Windows Update in The Middle of it All – No Surprise There?

As you might expect a Windows update was lurking. So after Microsoft Security Essentials completed the quick scan I did a reboot. There were 10 items to update.

No Warning of Multiple Anti-Virus Programs

After the reboot for the Windows update, the task bar did not have the info bubble warning of multiple anti virus programs running and the Windows Defender icon was now removed. A nice green check mark appeared in the Microsoft Security Essentials task bar icon.

Bonus: A Lighter Taskbar

One item I hate is a busy task bar of “background” programs. Losing one, “Windows Defender”, was truly a bonus.

Double Bonus: Faster Startup

With Avira gone, the startup has improved not only over speed, but also minus the Avira popups and bubble messages.

The Full Scan

Lastly I did a full scan. That took about 7 hours and covered 4.16 million files. The results was a clean bill of health. Says a lot for Avira Free if you take away the annoying parts of a slower boot speed and popups.

Postmortem : Onto the Dell XPS M1730 Vista Ultimate

I liked the Microsoft Security Essentials enough to boot, literally, Norton off my beautiful 2008 Dell XPS M1730 running Vista Ultimate. Again I received the benefit of a faster boot. Both the Toshiba and Dell are old machines in technology time, but now they function a trifle faster and with security. This may be one thing that Microsoft did that was worth the $$ which is Free!

Free because for customers to love your operating system, you need to protect them first and it should be an integral part of the OS if you plan to keep the OS proprietary.

Personal Computers Morph Into Mobility Device Suites

By Lon Hosford

PC Sales 1Q 2013 dropped 14% According To International Data Corp in this article, PC Outlook Darkens as Sales Slump Deepens in 1Q, posted by Associated Press.

One reason given is the consumer’s move to mobility devices such as smartphones and tablets.

If you define a personal computer by its appearance and its mobility, then you see a major change. If you define a personal computer as how you use it, then we have an explosive growth in personal computing that is unmatched in the history of computing.

For example email, social networking, web browsing and entertainment have moved to mobility devices. As well there is a movement of business and personal productivity functions such as video conferencing or time and to mobility devices like tablets. Education needs are all well met by tablets. You can read books, take tests and watch instruction on mobility devices.

So a key reason for personal computers, their usage, has moved. Actually has spread out.

But more so the physical components of a personal computer have spread out.

If you remove a personal computer or laptop’s processor and storage you basically have a television screen. The mobility devices can wirelessly use that screen and regular television screens.

The processor is now, a bit less powerful but with more efficient software, located in mobility devices with some software.

Storage has moved to mobility devices, but not completely. A lot of storage was already on the move to cloud storage. Google Drive and Apple Cloud are good examples.

The input device has become a a fully portable touch screen with the additional capability to view the output. Users choose to use the touch screen or attach a traditional physical keyboard as well can choose to use the touch screen or broadcast to a TV or computer monitor for a larger view.

Software has become distributed. Software may run completely on a device but the trend is software running as a service or some say in the cloud. The mobility devices contain only the needed software functions to deal with the device local storage due to loss of network connection plus some security information and information about where and how the device is used such as in GPS and network access portables detected.

The personal computer as one unit is in decline, but has exploded into many devices all still performing together as a personal computer has in the past.

There are still productivity function where a large monitor, good keyboard, mouse, touchpad and stylist is needed. Some software just demands powerful local resources like these. Drafting, 3D animation, software development tools and even still productivity based word processing seem to retain the need for the traditional personal computer as one unit.

The mobility devices we see today, tablets and smartphones, are going to evolve and become part of mobility suites of devices you have. We have smart watches and smart glasses on the way.

The personal computer of the past will become woven into login to your mobility device suite. You might being tracke each time you open the fridge or even will tell you what is in the fridge while you are shopping.

Consider Google glasses. Another mobility device on the horizon. It could detect help you shop gathering information from your kitchen and helping direct you in purchases. It might advise you about economical quantities to purchase to avoid spoilage.

When you shop for personal computing, you will find thinking about the mobility device suite available to you and to some extent who share similar mobility device suites.

You may even find purchase will include a set, rather than making each item a separate purchase decision. That set may include a TV sized monitor, a few input devices of the past like a wireless keyboard and mouse, a table, a smart phone, a watch, a set of glasses and more as inventors think of them.