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Life Notes
AKA Jim's Blog

by Jim Harrington
Saugus Photos Online

Opinions expressed here are those of Jim Harrington and not those of or any of its employees.

My intent in publishing this page is to share information, opinions, and experiences. It will provide an outlet for me to write about my hobbies, events in my life and publish items of interest to Saugus Massachusetts residents and the general public.

Foliage - Saugus River near Pranker's Pond
Saugus River 

Useful information about, but not limited to, computers, the Internet, and photography can be found here. In the past, most updates to Saugus Photos Online were made and when I had an interesting new photograph to publish. This page will provide a space for sharing my experiences in writing as opposed to using photography. Please bookmark this page (CTRL+D) and check back soon. New material will be added every few days.

This page is written by Jim Harrington.
It is hosted by the good people at
E-mail questions and comments to Jim at Saugus dot net.

Main Street Traffic 

At least 20 years ago, a traffic light was installed at the 3-way intersection of Main and Vine streets, here in Saugus. Traffic volume was much lighter when the timing of this light was set up.

On most days now, the traffic on Main Streets is very congested for 1/2 mile or more on either side of the light.

I'm no expert but it seems much of this congestion could be alleviated if the traffic light timing was changed. The timing currently favors the Vine St. traffic a bit too much.

Here's the way it works. A sensor under the road on Vine St. detects when autos arrive on Vine St. If no cars are waiting on Vine, the light will never turn red for Main.

Once one or more cars pull up to the light on Vine, a timer is activated in the traffic light control, making Vine St traffic wait just a bit before starting the green light cycle. I pulled up to the Vine St. light, the only car there, to make a left, and waited no more than 40 seconds for a green light.

If this Vine St delay was increased slightly, Main St. traffic congestion would almost certainly diminish. There is rarely more than 5 or 6 cars waiting for the light on Vine. On days of heavy traffic, there can be 100 cars delayed by the light on Main St.

I'm not suggesting creating long lines of traffic on Vine St, it's just that the timing of the light favors Vine a bit too much.

Better traffic flow at this intersection would reduce fuel consumption and make the trip up Main St. smoother. It may also prevent a few accidents and injurys.

Maybe someone in town who has control or influence over such things will read this and look into adjusting that traffic light.

Local Saugus Businesses - 05/05/06

Having spent my entire life living in Saugus, I have experience with many businesses in town. By sharing this experience, I hope to help a few local citizens and maybe some business too.

Kane's Donuts (click for photo)
Lincoln Ave

The best donuts anywhere...the way all donuts use to be... before being shrunk by you know who...


Saugus Glass
24 Winter St

I believe the man is called "Butchie". He has helped me several times with things like diagnosing electrical problems (dead power-window),replacing side view mirror glass, and repairing a power-window off-the-track. Excellant customer service! His prices are very fair and he often does minor repairs while you wait!



With offices on both Lincoln Ave and Hamilton street, Saugusbank has always done well by me. No or low fees, compared to other larger local banks, is a big plus. Not to mention their friendly staff of tellers. Saugusbank offers free on-line banking with a direct deposit account.


Anthony's Oil Heating Service

Tony cleans and takes care of the oil guzzling behemoth in the basement, at least once per year. He once made an early morning "no heat" emergency visit!

781-231-2621 where most of my Web pages are hosted.. and have been for almost 10 YEARS!!


Bruhm's Tire Service
99 Lincoln Ave
781-233-2223 where I go for flat tire repair, balance etc. Quick service and fair prices.


Hart's Hardware
40 Hamilton St.
Saugus, MA 781-231-5484

Avoid the crowds of that large hardware complex on Rt. 1. Hart's Hardware provides friendly service and a large selection of hardware.


More to follow, as they come to mind.

On-Line Banking

How much time do you waste writing checks each month to pay your bills?...not to mention the cost of stamps. SaugusBank recently waived their monthly fee for on-line banking, if you have direct deposit there.

This service allows the paying of bills with just a few keystrokes (of course you'll need to update your checkbook ledger as you go.)

There's no reason not to save time and money by signing up for on-line banking. ( I'm promoting this service only to help the local public save time and money, and because I feel SaugusBank is a good local bank to do business with.)

Birds Eye Views From Microsoft

A friend at work, who shares an interest and aerial pictures and such, recently told me about a new service (in beta) available from MS. The high res and low angle is what make these images so much better than those found on Google Earth.

Visit Navigate to the location of your choice, enter your home address for example, in the address field at the top. In the upper left section of the browser window, click aerial or, if available, click Bird's Eye. Bird's Eye provides high resolution images, much better than most satellite images. Unfortunately, bird's Eye coverage is limited.

Use the compass on upper left for views of the same area from different angles.

Use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out.

MAKE SURE to zoom in for maximum definition. (only 2 different sizes available.)

Toggle F11 to maximize your browser.

I'm quite sure, but not positive, these are aerial survey images from aircraft, not satellite.

Please let me know, if/when the link goes bad... jim at saugus dot net

Enjoy, Jim

Too Many Canadian Geese 10/5/05

Over the past decade at least, Canadian goose populations have been on the rise in the Massachusetts area. Wherever you find large expanses of manicured lawns, you often find Canadian geese grazing in the grass. The birds themselves are not so much a problem as the droppings they leave behind. Golf courses, cemeteries and even large yards are often turned into virtual minefields of goose droppings.

Someone at the large factory where I work has taken a passive approach to eliminating the geese problem. Several realistic looking Coyote replicas, with tails blowing in the wind, have been placed in strategic positions around the lawns and parking lots where geese frequent. This tactic seems to be working. I witnessed a flock of geese on approach for landing. When they spotted the "coyote" they aborted their landing plans and flew off. I'd expect these coyote decoys need to be repositioned frequently so the geese don't catch on.

Update: 3/16/06 (These fake coyotes do not get repositioned much and now the geese ignore them.)

On a related note, I'd be willing to bet the over abundance of Canadian Geese has been partly responsible for the rise in real coyote sightings in the Eastern Massachusetts area.

Google Earth 8/29/05

If you like satellite imagery and you have a fast, cable Internet connection and new, fast PC (sorry no Mac support) I highly recommend downloading Google Earth. This stand-alone application brings viewing the planet earth to a whole new level. You can tilt-down on these satellite images for a 3D rendering. Buildings in large cities are visible as graphics. It also flies you from one location to another. Very cool stuff!

PC Versus MAC 8/24/05

A while back, I was considering a dual-processor MAC G5 desktop computer to augment my slide scanning business. I took a data DVD-R filled with 64MB tif files (4000DPI 35MM slide scans) to the Apple Store at the North Shore Mall. I had the sales person copy the files to the MAC hard drive, then open a dozen of these very large files, all at once. I was disappointed while I waited for these files to open. They did not open any faster than they did on my 5 year old PC. The bottle neck was hard drive performance.

I found out that Dell was offering PC's with RAID 0 or "performance" hard drives. I looked into it further. Performance type RAID (an acronym for something like "redundant array in-line drives") drives basically splits files in half, with each of two drives containing half of each file. When a file is called to be loaded into memory, it is delivered from two drives at once, dramatically improving performance. While this type of speed might not be needed for the average computer user, it is very helpful in speeding up the processing of large files, as I frequently do scanning 35MM slides.

Do I spend $5000.00 for a dual-processor, 2 GB RAM, MAC G5, with only a 20" monitor, or, buy the dual-core Dell with a 24" monitor, 2GB RAM and the enhanced performance of RAID 0, priced $2000.00 less at $3000.00. The choice was obvious. Dell's "interest free financing till '06" sweetened the deal.

Switching to MAC, I'd have to buy lots of expensive software, most of which I already owned for a PC.

Die-hard, dedicated MAC users will argue, to their grave, that the Mac platform is more stable, more secure, (although Windows is certainly more targeted, very few people write software to attack the Mac) and over-all, just plain better. I can't argue with that. Maybe a Mac is "better." I was not willing to pay $2000.00 more for "better", not to mention additional software costs.

My decision was based on logic, hard drive performance, and of-course, cost. Two months later, I have no regrets! Steve Jobs is minus $2000.00. Me, Bill Gates and Dell are up a few dollars.

On-Line Shopping - USB Cables 6/16/05

My recent on-line shopping horizons have expanded. In the beginning, I shopped on-line mostly with That has slowed. Another business I commonly buy from is B&H Photo.

A recent purchase was made at They sell replacement batteries for notebook computers among other things. That transaction went well and their price was lower than buying from Dell.

After purchasing a few over-priced USB 2.0 A/B cables from local electronics stores, where a 10' USB 2.0 A/B cable can cost $35.00 or more, I found offers USB cables for a about one tenth the cost of CC & BB (our local electronics superstores). Maybe the quality is lower, or they're not gold-plated, but I could buy ten cables at for the cost of one at the local stores.

Speaking of cables, did you know that many times a peripheral computer device can be condemned as broken when in fact the connecting cables have failed?

If you have a device (camera, scanner, printer etc.)that powers up OK but will not respond to your computer, chances are the cable has failed. Most computer cables have several very thin wires inside which can break from repeated bending.

Satellite Images 5/18/05

Have you seen the newest images from space using Google Maps? (That link will start you out at Saugus Center.) There have been satellite images on-line for quite a while but this one is a little better than most. It allows the switching between a map view and satellite image and zooming in and out, of course. The best feature of this service is the interface. It allows the user to drag the image up, down or side to side by grabbing it with the mouse pointer. The image panning is almost seamless. It's also not overlaid with obnoxious copyright markings. They do exit, but they're subtle.

The MIT satellite images offer better resolution but they're black & white and have a much more limited scope.


Keyboard & Mouse Tips 02/04/05

Some people, new to computers, might not be aware of different ways to select text. On Windows computers, most applications allow the selecting of text by double and triple clicking. Take your mouse now and double click any word in this paragraph and the entire word should become highlighted or "selected."

Now try triple clicking a word and that may select the entire line, depending on your browser. To select all contents of a page, or in this case a table, hold CTRL and press A.

Now type CTRL+C and the selected text has bee copied to the "clipboard" for pasting elsewhere.

Visit my Keyboard Tips page for more tips like this.

Saugus Photos Online 01/21/05 hosts all the pages and photographs that make up Saugus Photos Online.

Did you know that all the pages at and Saugus Photos Online reside on servers located right here in Saugus, MA?

If your business or organization would benefit from Web site design or hosting services, call at 781-231-2621. Tell them Jim Harrington sent you.

Old Saugus Photographs 12/29/04

A few years back I received a mix of old Saugus related images from viewers. They were published on the Photos Submitted page.

In an effort to bring new material to the site, I'm looking for your Saugus related photographs which could be of interest to viewers. If you don't have these images in digital form, I could scan them for you and return the originals and images files on CD, at no charge.

Call me (Jim Harrington) 781-244-5655 if you have photographs that might be of local interest.

Photos of interest to me would be things like: Saugus Drive In, GEM Store, Saugus Cinema, The Flamingo Lounge, New England Shopping Center, storm photos, Ace Welding, Sweeney's Oil, Sam's Market, or any other interesting Saugus related images.

I'm not looking for old postcards images. The place for them is the Saugus Post Card pages at

This is a good time to mention the old Cliftondale - Saugus, Massachusetts Aerial photographs I published.


Saugus Contests etc. 12/29/04

Two recent Saugus contests were solved fairly quickly. In an effort to create new contests, I'm soliciting the help of viewers for ideas. If you have a photo related contest idea, send mail to Jim at saugus dot net.

E-mail Tips 12/19/04

Many times I receive e-mail from friends or relatives, something they liked and want to share. The "To: or CC:" section of these e-mails almost always shows ALL the address the sender sent the message to. This is not a good thing. Many people do not want their e-mail address distributed around the world with every FWD: fwd: fwd:...etc. This could end up showing addresses to hundreds of people.

To prevent this inadvertent sharing of your address book, use the BCC: option when sending one e-mail to multiple addresses. BCC is an acronym for Blind Carbon Copy. Addresses in BCC: are not shown to all recipients.

To use BCC:, address the e-mail to yourself, ( that way no one sees any recipients )then click the word, icon or button "To:" to the left of the addressee field on the message. That should bring up your list of contacts, AKA address book. As you select each recipient from your contact list, choose the BCC option instead of "To:".

Thanks for NOT sharing!

Computer Mouse Tips for Windows OS 12/16/04

Does your mouse have a wheel? Many for the PC do, but some wheels never get used. One useful purpose of the wheel is scrolling Web pages. Instead of clicking arrows or sliding scroll bars, roll that wheel. Try it now! Click down on the the wheel once and a your pointer may turn into a scroll icon. Move the mouse down a bit after clicking the wheel will make a page scroll at varying speeds.

Is your mouse not moving the pointer as you'd expect? Chances are that lint fibers have become wrapped around rollers inside, inhibiting roller movement.

Remove the door underneath the mouse by turning the door part-way as indicated by arrows. Remove the roller ball and use tweezers to pull the fibers off the rollers inside. Reassemble and you should see improved performance.

Do you find yourself picking up the mouse constantly because you run it off the end of the pad? Your mouse pad is not to small, you just need to adjust the mouse tracking. From the Start button find the control panel. Once there, double-click the mouse icon. The exact method of adjusting mouse tracking speed will vary from system to system but once the mouse icon is double clicked, I'm shown a "pointer options" tab in Windows 98. After selecting it a slider is available to adjust pointer or tracking speed. Moving the slider to the right should lessen the need for picking up the mouse and make moving the pointer less tedious. If the mouse tracking is set too fast it may be difficult to point it accurately.

Saugus On-Line Banking 11/09/04
If you're considering on-line banking, I highly recommend
Saugus Bank's Scooplink on-line banking service. For $4.95 /mo you can pay all your bills electronically, check your balances and transfer funds between accounts. The savings in stamps will help offset the monthly fee.

Leaf Pile Dangers 11/6/04
A recent tragedy occurred in Massachusetts where two young girls were run over while playing in a pile of leaves.

We should all warn children and grandchildren not to play or hide in leaf piles when those leaves are in places where a motor vehicle (including lawn mowers)could drive. The same holds true for snow banks or snow piles where plows or trucks could potentially kill or hurt kids in that snow.

Fish eye Lens 11/05/04 - Yesterday I received a fish eye lens, purchased on Ebay. Attached to my Nikon CoolPix 990 digital camera, it provides 180 degrees of view. When two photographs are made, facing in opposite directions, they can be stitched together, creating an immersive photograph allowing 360 degrees of view. These images can be viewed on-line using plug-in software from Ipix. I will soon be publishing some of these 360 degree images, created with the fish-eye lens.

Check here for the 360 degree panoramic.

Phishing 11/04/05 - Today I received e-mail, purportedly from PayPal, that included a link and suggestions that I update my account information on PayPal. It turns out the e-mail was a fraud, what is known as "phishing". The culprits who send out this stuff are attempting to collect information such as your bank account or credit card numbers. Security information on the PayPal website says that any e-mail PayPal sends out will address me by name. This message did not. I reported this attempted e-mail fraud to the PayPal security dept.

Pop-Ups - Adware - Is your PC plagued by excessive pop-ups? PC's running the Windows OS are vulnerable to malicious programs which install themselves when you visit certain Web sites. These programs can slow down a PC dramatically. They can cause numerous pop-ups (advertisements) to be displayed as soon as you start your computer, some even before you open your browser. Sometimes referred to as Adware, dozens of these programs can become installed on your machine without you knowing it. They can slow your computer down dramatically and can cause it to take 10 minutes or more just to complete start up. They can take over Microsoft Internet Explorer and cause their own "start-up" pages to be displayed when you start MSIE.

A couple of my relatives have seen these Adware programs infecting their PCs. I found one free program which is very effective at removing these evil programs. It is called SpyBot. Although the program is free, its author suggests that users make a donation. I believe users should donate if the program helps them.

After downloading and installing SpyBot make sure if you click on a "check for updates" before running the search and destroy option.

Consider Netscape - Many Web sites visited by Internet users legitimately cause pop-ups and pop-unders to appear on your computer. The intent of these pop-ups is to generate advertising income. The Boston Globe Web site, CNN and thousands of others will cause these irritating pop-ups to display if you visit using Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Downloading and installing Netscape is or FireFox recommended (by Jim) as an alternative to using Microsoft Internet Explorer as your only Web browser. Netscape has an option which, when activated, will prevent pop-ups altogether. Using Netscape also helps chip away at Microsoft's monopoly.

Windows XP users should consider downloading the Service Pack 2, which contains pop-up blockers for Microsoft Internet Explorer. Microsoft seems to be leaving Windows 98 users with no pop-up blocking option for MSIE.

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Copyright © 2004
J. F. Harrington