Saturday, December 24, 2016

Can I steal Windows 10 lock screen images to use as screen background?

Yes you can
Because they are stored on your computer. The windows lock screen images are held in a folder:
%userprofile%\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\Assets
If you open this folder you'll find a number of files with no file extension. Some of them are .jpg files and others not. You'll need to copy the folder contents and rename them to find the files you want.
The easiest way to do this is to copy the entire folder 'assets' and paste it to a new, easy-to-find location. Your desktop for example.

  • Either back up one level or open %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState
  • Right click the folder Assets and choose Copy. Then right click on a blank area of your desktop and choose Paste.
  • Go into the folder you just created and shift right click a blank area. Select the option 'Open a command window here'.
  • In the command window type ren *.* *.jpg this will change all the files to a jpg extension.

You can now look at all the files and see the contents in a preview pane. (If you don't have a preview pane you can find it under the View tab of the file window). Those files which don't show an image - delete. You'll find two types of image. Full screen landscape ones suitable for laptops and portrait images suitable for mobile phones and tablets.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Downloaded Office files - Removing Microsoft's safety pin

Periodically I download from my bank a spreadsheet of my transactions. Recently though an update to Excel (version 16.0 as in Office 365) stopped these .XLS files from opening. Instead I see a blank page. To view the contents I must now right click the downloaded file, select 'Properties' and in the General tab check the 'Unblock' at the bottom.  It's a pain, especially since Excel will still warn me that the file came from an external source and still ask me if I want to enable editing. It seems Microsoft use belt, braces (that's 'suspenders' in the US) and now a safety pin also.

I looked for a way round this and in an answer to an apparently unrelated question about slow saving of large Word files, I found a possible solution using a registry tweak. It worked and I now no longer have to unblock Excel files from an external source. Obviously, you should only do this with files from sources you trust (can I trust my bank?).

Note: The method to fix the issue will modify the Registry. Before you do this, make sure to back it up and understand how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. Please refer to this link: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows.

Using Regedit, go to this registry key address:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Security\FileValidation
If this doesn't appear to be present, you can create it. If your version of Excel is 15.0 or earlier - just change that to the appropriate number.
Double click the REG_DWORD: EnableOnLoad, set its value to 0 (zero) and restart the PC.

You'll now find you only get two warnings about external files instead of three.

Incidentally this same registry tweak will also help with slow loading and saving of large Office files.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

What is LESS dangerous than a terrorist?

Have you ever wondered what is LESS dangerous than a terrorist? 


After considerable research I can tell you. The information is compiled from National Vital Statistics on deaths

Trivial death risks



  • Killed as a passenger on a train - odds 1 in 10,300,000
  • Killed by explosion of pressurised vessels such as a pressure cooker or tire - odds 1 in 10,700,000
  • Killed by being struck by a person - that's being fallen on or bumping into them not fistfights - odds 1 in 11,000,000
  • Killed by being bitten by a dog - odds 1 in 16,000,000
  • Killed by being bitten or stung by a bug other than bees,wasps or spiders - 1 in 22,150,000
  • Killed by ignition of nightwear - odds 1 in 22,150,000
  • Killed by excessive  man-made heat or cold e.g. trapped in a freezer - odds 1 in 28,800,000
  • Killed by venomous spiders - odds 1 in 28,800,000
  • Killed by a flood - odds 1 in 32,000,000
  • Killed by unintentional firearms discharge - odds 1 in 57,600,000
  • Killed by explosion of fireworks - odds 1 in 57,600,000
  • Killed while occupant of street car - odds 1 in 72,000,000
  • Killed by contact with venomous snakes - odds 1 in 96,000,000
  • Killed by a vending machine - odds 1 in 112,000,000
  • Killed by shark attack - odds 1 in 264,100,000
  • Killed by rabies in USA - odds 1 in 880,000,000
  • Killed by a meteor - odds 1 in 765,000,000,000,000,000

Terrorism with a risk of 1 in 9,300,000 is more dangerous than all of these but terrorism is LESS dangerous than this list:

  • Earthquakes - odds 1 in 9,290,000
  • Scalding by hot water - odds 1 in 8,200,000
  • Riding on a bus - odds 1 in 7,200,000
  • Stung by hornets, wasps and bees - odds 1 in 5,300,00
  • Cave-ins or falling earth - odds 1 in 5,000,000
  • Storms - odds 1 in 4,500,000
  • Lightning - odds 1 in 4,300,000
  • Legal execution in the USA - odds 1 in 4,300,000
  • Bitten by mammals other than dogs - odds 1 in 3,800,000
  • Falling from high place - odds 1 in 2,800,000
  • Overexertion, travel and privation - odds 1 in 2,250,000
  • Accidental firearm discharge - odds 1 in 1,200,000
  • Drowning in bath tub - odds 1 in 800,000
  • Alcohol - odds 1 in 800,000
  • Falling from a ladder - odds 1 in 700,000
  • Falling from a building - odds 1 in 520,000
  • Drowning in a swimming pool - odds 1 in 450,000
  • Tripping/slipping at same level - odds 1 in 450,000
  • Falling off a bycycle - odds 1 in 375,000
  • Falling out of bed! - odds 1 in 370,000
  • Death at your office desk - odds 1 in 140,000
  • Riding a motor cycle - odds 1 in 90,000
  • Accidental poisoning - odds 1 in 86,000
  • Assault by firearm USA - odds 1 in 24,000


The real risks to your life

All of these pale into insignificance when compared with the real risks to your life:

  • Heart disease - odds 1 in 3
  • Cancer - odds 1 in 5 (and falling)
  • Strokes - odds 1 in 20
  • Respiratory disease - odds 1 in 20 (more if you smoke) 
  • Diabetes - odds 1 in 30
  • Alzheimer's disease - odds 1 in 31 (and rising)


Despite spending billions on a trivial risk - remember falling out of bed is 35 times more dangerous than terrorism - we seem unable to stop it. We could easily cut the risk of heart disease though by just educating people to eat less and exercise more often. The cost in terms of health education advertisements would be trivial compared with the arms budget.

Why doesn't this happen? Why are we so concerned about terrorism?

I suspect the real answer is greed. Not from people overeating but the greed of people who make fortunes persuading people to fight each other. Those who finance, make and supply arms and munitions. For their profit:

  • They need to persuade people that terrorism is a serious threat to their lives. 
  • They need religious leaders to be at odds with each other. 
  • They need preachers of hate to stir up fear in the weak willed, easily led people. 
  • They need the media to focus on trivialities and stir up the paranoia which sells their stories.
  • They need politicians to be coerced by lobbyist enticements and forced into stupid actions by ill-informed electorates.



We are fighting the wrong people!
Our target should not be the morons but the men in suits ultimately behind them.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

An Atheist responds to a Christian

Recently a Christian declared their faith by posting this image on Facebook:
They probably didn't expect much in the way of atheist comments but an atheist did respond with a similar format picture:
One thing I would like to ask Christians (or any other religion) "If there is a god/gods why would they want us to worship them?"