Windows Updates to avoid/uninstall/hide

From a slashdot anonymous post:


If you’re running automatic updates on 7 or 8 you already have the same "telemetry" components as well. Check for installation of 3035583, 2952664, 2976978, 3021917, 3044374, 2990214, 3022345, 3068708, all of which are windows 10 related components. It seems that the last two are the diagnostics/telemetry ones with the others having more questionable intent.

I’ve noticed a rash of questionable windows updates on my windows 7 machines. A few of the above numbers I recognize, a few I didn’t. I am in the process of making sure none of the above are on any of my machines.


Downloading Retro Magazines from Internet Archive


I’ve recently gotten interested in retro-Apple II things. I owned a ][+ and a IIgs as a kid and also experimented with emulators (Applewin and KEGS32) later on.


One of the many magazines I subscribed to back then was Open Apple. It struck just the right balance between being informative and being humorous/witty, in the vein of the Beagle Bros products and literature. (I still remember sending a letter to Bert Kersey and getting a personal response)


The Internet archive has been amassing quite the collection of Apple II material, including scans of books and magazines. I still have a binder somewhere of original Open Apple magazines, but it is much more convenient to read them in pdf form.


I am also quite the python fan, having used it since the 1.x days. There is a python module, internetarchive, that quite effectively allows you to search and download collections from the Internet Archive. Most examples I’ve seen use the command line script ia, but  I (erroneously) thought it would be difficult to get working on a Windows platform. I decided to use the library directly in python to search for and download the entire open apple collection, in pdf (and .epub) format.


What follows is the short program in interactive mode I used. I ran this twice, first without the no_directory parameter in get_item and then with, so that I could have two sets of the collection: one for archival in neat directory structure, and another in one directory to transfer to calibre and eventually my kindles.


>>> from internetarchive import get_item, search_items

>>> search=search_items(‘collection:openapplemagazine’)

>>> search.num_found

>>> for result in search:
…     try:
…         get_item(result[‘identifier’]).download(glob_pattern= ‘*.pdf’, no_directory=True)
…     except: # silently catch all errors (most commonly, IOErrors if file exists already)
…         pass

Another magazine that I remember, but not as fondly as I do Open Apple, is Softalk. The search term for that is collection:softalkapple.



Microsoft Flight Simulator Tweaks


Tweak FS2002 FS2004 (FS9) FSX Comments
FPS Frame Rate 30 30 30  

North Brother Island tourist trap?


Apparently, there is some talk of opening up North Brother Island for public tours.


I’m ambivalent, as on the one side I think it would be nice to allow the public (including myself) to see some old New York history. On the other hand I am not sure there would be any way to prevent these historical sites from being turned into crass tourist destinations (Starbucks?).


In the meantime some pictures from the gothamist site linked above:






[Amazon] Wooden train tracks

I was surprised a few months ago when my daughter asked me to buy her a train set. Train sets are more of a boy thing, I had thought. I myself had a small electric set when I was a kid and I was looking forward to getting back into scale model railroads when my son is a little bit older.


I went to a local Toys R Us and confirmed that my daughter wanted a wooden train set, similar to the Thomas the Train set that is very popular. I of course went to amazon to see if I can get something cheaper, and bought the above “compatible” train set and tracks.


Some things to note:

  1. [Train Car] Reasonably well made (out of wood), but the wheels have a lot of tolerance, so that there is a lot of play along the axle. This makes it a bit awkward to push them on the wooden tracks, especially at a switch/splitter track element (1 to 2).
  2. [Tracks] I didn’t have that much trouble assembling some simple track layouts, although a few pieces either did not fit others or it was a tight fit. These track pieces are mated as a ball and  U ends ( think of it like o] ), and the few pieces’ ball ends were sticking out too much to fit neatly in the “U” of other pieces.
  3. [Tracks] Most troubling was that this set of 100 did not have matching switch/splitter elements, only one particular type. These elements are 1 track into 2 (1 to 2). To make a classic double oval track layout you would need two types of switch/splitter elements. One will need to have the U at the 1 track end (1 : U) and the ball at the 2 track (2 : ball) ends. This set did not have the other set, 1 : ball and 2 : U. Note this is not a symmetry problem, you can turn the element over to get the orientation correct (left split or right split). But once you split the track into two, you will never be able to combine them again without the 1 : ball and 2 : U element. I will need to order another set specifically with those elements.

[Amazon] Frozen Elsa Doll

Disney Frozen Sparkle Princess Elsa Doll

While I still manage to geek-out and purchase tech items (mostly embedded hardware) and games (strictly Steam or GOG during sales), with a daughter and a son now I am paying a lot more attention to kid-oriented toys.


I bought the above Elsa doll for my daughter’s recent birthday. Not really an expert, but it seemed well constructed and reasonably close to the Frozen movie. No music or anything fancy, just the doll with sparkly dress and a pair of blue shoes.


Two things to note

  1. The shoes fit reasonably well on the doll’s feet, but with rough handling can get dislodged. They have already fallen out two times over as many days while my daughter was playing with the doll.
  2. The sparkles on the dress come off easily and I can see sparkles on my daughter’s face and hands. When I see them I wash them off, but long term I am not sure how healthy it is. I have noticed my daughter sometimes gets redness around her eyes after playing with the doll, no doubt because sparkles came off close to her eye and she started scratching them.


From what I can tell on there are a lot of knock-offs for this doll, and comparing pictures I believe I have the genuine Disney product sold directly from amazon (I rarely trust non-amazon sellers). There is some room for improvement but my daughter seems happy and so am I.


Amazon Associates

I’ve noticed that most of my non-food purchases have been on I’ve also started to create reviews on some of the products I have bought there, so I thought I might as well more directly tie my Amazon purchases to this blog.


I will only post on products I have bought and have actually used, and will try to be objective as possible.


GMAT Integrated Reasoning

I will be taking the GMATs soon, as I am applying for some MPA programs through work. Last time I took them was a little over 5 years (and hence scores are expired), and while I did well in Verbal + Quantitative (770+800), I did really badly on the writing part. Plus there appears to be a new Integrated Reasoning section.


The GMAT book I bought had an access code for the online Integrated Reasoning section, which incredibly expires in 6 months! This to me is just another form of DRM.


Mazda5 cyclical noise

Well it looks like my less than a week old mazda5 already needs some major work done.

The cyclical “whump whump” noise I was hearing (even from the initial test drive, which the sales person said was just road noise) turns out to be the left front drive axle. Good thing that this is under warranty (Mazda’s Certified Preowned Limited Warranty).

I bought this car used from Wellesley Mazda, and while I question how this drive axle problem was missed in the “150 point inspection” that Mazda Certified Preowned program features, at least for now I am willing to give them a benefit of the doubt. Hopefully this will fix the whump whump noise and also the slight clicking noise I hear when shifting.

I will be bringing in the Mazda5 next Monday and be getting a loaner car for the day. More to come later




It looks like the tire problem has caused many owners to look to alternative size tires from stock (205/50/17)


The change in looks is probably way too subtle for many enthusiast owners, but I went with 215/50-17 Contis for my first set of replacement tires. These are slightly too large in circumference, making the odometer under-record by 1% or so, but have the advantage of making the speedometer ABSOLUTELY accurate, compared to Garmin GPS just taken on 8800 mile road trip back east from Seattle. Plus, they give a slight clearance improvement for driveway nose-scraping, and slightly improve the “economy” aspects of gearing (our is manual, and 2800 rpm 60 in 5th is plenty high for me)