Sunday, March 27, 2011

Switching Away from Microsoft - An Experiment

Switching Away from Microsoft - An Experiment

I have used Microsoft products proudly since I switched away from Mac in about 1992. I didn't mind Bill Gates being incredibly wealthy and as a matter of fact, think it's a great American success story. Many of my friends were critical of Microsoft, but I held my ground.

Lately, Microsoft has been getting a bit intrusive. It started with Explorer 7 and the addition of the Operating System validation tool. For some reason my laptop purchased at Best Buy wouldn't pass and I could not upgrade. Well, since it's just a spare laptop and my desktop passed - not a big deal. But then I wanted to play a movie on my laptop for my family and when I could play it because to upgrade to Media Player 11 you have to be validated it actually became an inconvenience. Yes, that little problem started me looking for non-Microsoft DVD players that I could download.

As I was looking for some recommendations on my eyes were opened - not only could I solve my problem with playing the DVD, I could do it with a free program. Sure enough, I downloaded a player and it worked just fine. Sure, maybe it was quite as cool of a menu bar and I suppose there were some other features I don't have now, but I got to play the DVD without dealing with the OS verification.

So, then I'm thinking - what other parts of my Microsoft library could I replace. That's the start of the journey.


Day 1

After installing Media Player I found Firefox. It will replace Internet Explorer. After all, it seemed that upgrading to 7 was when things started to go wrong. I wonder what else I'll discover.

Day 2

Successfully installed and started playing with Firefox. There are some certain differences. I don't quite understand the downloading process. There's this extra window that pops up and I don't feel like I have the choice of where to put all the files. I'll have to play with some settings and see what else I can do.

Day 4

When I went to the Firefox website to see what I could do to fix my download confusion, I see that they have other add-ons. I don't know what this Thunderbird is, but it looks like an email program of some kind. Hey that might take me away from Outlook. I wonder what crazy things that do differently. Will I get to have folders that my incoming email is sorted into?

I really like the idea of having free software. I already use GRISOFT Antivirus ( and that has been working very well for over a year. No viruses here. That switch happened over a year ago when I got a virus while running Norton and they told me there was nothing they could do.

Day 5

Thunderbird installed, but can't seem to get the passwords to authenticate. I'll have to go back and make sure I'm entering them correctly. I'm don't think it's my error, but who knows. I've made sillier mistakes than that.

I don't understand how it imported my Outlook folders. It's nice that it tried, but I might have been better off starting from scratch. I might have learned more about the way it's set up and simple tricks might have been easier to discover. Maybe I'll start rfom scratch yet.

Day 8

I've been thinking about Linux. I know people who swear by it. That would put me on a whole different track. Not sure if I want to think about changing OS's quite yet. After all, I do sometimes log into networks that are Windows based. That'd be my luck I switch and get everything set up the way I like it and then learn I have to switch back to connect to a network. More research needed for sure.

I don't think I've mentioned this yet, but when Google started offering their online documents, I had already started using that. Not because I had concerned with Word or xcel, but this way I could easily share them online and have friends, family or clients easily have access to the same data. Very nice. The reason I mention Google docs, is that today I discovered I guess it would really be re-discovered. I had heard about it some time ago and looked at it at the advice of friends, but since I was still happy with Microsoft, I didn't have any need to pursue it. Now I'm thinking I can finally have my kids have a nice office quite on their PC's without needed to spend a fortune.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Smell of Burning Tamarack

OK, so the smell of burning tamarack is not a hobby, but I got to say there are a ton of hobbies that fit in with that. There’s camping and hiking, RV’ing and even people that have hobbies of saving money and heat their homes with outdoor wood boilers can really enjoy the smell of burning tamarack.

When I go camping I love to burn pine trees, which tamarack falls in to the family of.  That smell sends back memories and of good times and it also it a great reminder that I’m outdoors and doing something that I enjoy. I’m not cooped up in the office and I can feel free. It’s almost like any time I smell burning tamarack that I think I’m on vacation and it feels like it has to be the weekend for sure.

Now don’t get that confused with all of the possible bad burning smells. You know, the other kinds of wood that smell more like a house burning to the ground or smell more like a wet dirty ashtray that hasn’t been emptied in years. That’s not the good kind of smells that bring back fond memories. No, but give me a nice simple campfire that has a few pine logs thrown in for some awesome aroma and I’ll be in good shape.

If you have an indoor fireplace you can get that smell anytime you want.

TIPS: When you go for a walk, pick up some pine cones and burn those. They are good fire-starters and kindling and will also give you some of the nice pine smell.

Pine / tamarack burns very fast and very hot. Be careful anytime you’re around fire, even something as fun and relaxing as a campfire.

If you have horses, you can use pine shavings and chips as ground covering and bedding and help eliminate other not so pleasant smells.

Get to know your favorite kind of wood.

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Snowmobiling – Fun in the snow

if you live anywhere where snow falls in the winter, you’re likely familiar with many different winter sports. Cross Country skiing, snow shoeing, ice fishing, and sledding are just a few of the winter sports people find themselves drawn to. Many people use the winter sports as a method to cope with the long winters where other normal outdoor activities are limited. Depending on the part of the world you live in, you find a different approach to snow and the cold winter temps.


In Minnesota, many people turn to snowmobiling as a way to get over the harsh winters. Polaris has their headquarters and much of their manufacturing in Minnesota which makes sense. That is where many of their consumers are. Skidoo also offers a wide range of snowmobiles.

Trail Grooming

Counties in Minnesota spend a large amount of money each year in grooming trails with special trail grooming equipment that preps the trails by smoothing them out in a nice even amount of snow covering for the snowmobilers. These are not snowplows, because they want to keep a good amount of snow on the trail, and the trails would become useless if the snow was pushed aside. A freshly groomed trail with also make ensure a safe ride as all of the foreign debris is removed and cleared. This could be branches and twigs that could otherwise be a great danger to riders and their equipment.

Advances in Snowmobiles

Snowmobiles have come a long way as manufacturers have started using lighter aluminum engines and bodies as well as better suspension and a wide variety of options for track styles. They also have given the snowmobiles more horsepower and sleeker designs for better aerodynamics. You can get different studs on the track depending on if you are snowmobiling in thick heavy snow, or are wanting to glide through the powdery fluffy snow.


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