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November 21st, 2009 - Investigation in CT

I promised the boss lady... um, TheCrimeBrat (GG)... that I would submit a report of our investigation by today.. so here it is... well, here's a post about it anyway... *locations and names changed to protect the haunted... AND the spirits.

It was a fine evening in the great state of CT. There was a waxing moon and plenty of stars out. The investigation took place at a private residence in a town "west" of Hartford. The owners are a young(er) couple, Bob and Chelsea, with a 17 month old daughter, Cathy. The house is 2 living levels (a garrison, I believe), 3 bedrooms upstairs and a family room addition off the back of the dining room, a full basement and a semi-accessible attic.

We arrived at the location around 7:30... later decided to be too early for a real active investigation. Unfortunately, the owners were home but we persuaded them to go out... at least for a little while so the house would be empty and none of our potential experiences could be attributed to the 2 of them... the "baby" was out for the night.

First a brief history of the activities experienced by the owners...
  • Black shadows passing
  • Being touched
  • Footprints that disappear down the hallway
  • Personally seeing a door open and then be closed abruptly
  • Cathy pointing and interacting with an unseen entity
The house has always been in Bob's family, it being his boyhood home. Bob's father, Richard, had died suddenly in the home in the family room addition that was added in the 70's. Also, for a time, Bob's grandmother resided with them and Richard took care of her.

The owner's took us for a walk-through and explained to us the areas of the most activity.... black shadows in the addition, the footprints down the upstairs hallway and the most activity being in the "back bedroom" which was Richard's while he was alive - and is directly across the hall from the "baby's" room. At the conclusion of the "tour" the back bedroom door was CLOSED... important... keep reading.

Although we didn't personally see shadows (although at one point I thought I did - but it could have been a reflection from a passing car), doors opening or footprints, I would like to believe that some of our experiences can only be explained as paranormal.

Let me explain my take on "ghost hunting". I personally use the phrase loosely and would rather refer to this as an investigation. Ghost hunt depicts a random and amateur quest to "see" a ghost. Under this pretense, one is sure to subconsciously will themselves into seeing something that might not even be there.

An investigation depicts an attempt to collect evidence and data to determine the possibility of paranormal activity, while trying to explain what you do experience by scientific or rational means... but you can call it what you want.

Rather than recap the entire investigation, which could take at least 2 posts to do, I will have to summarize, and will explain what we experienced via different pieces of equipment to the best of my analytical ability.... and then I will summarize the evening.

EMF meter (K2)

(Stair Landing - time of constant yellow)

The newly acquired K2 was not very active throughout the night... EXCEPT for on the stair landing leading to the upstairs. There was definitely some energy being detected in this area with the K2 registering a yellow light on several occasions.

In my initial sweep, I didn't get any readings here. However in a later sweep, GG received a steady yellow reading. Trying to explain the reading, she panned the area maintaining the constant yellow from about her eye level to her thigh level, but not above or below.

An even stronger reading we collected at the corner wall of the landing, later to be debunked by the electrical service running down the outside of the house at that particular corner.

I'm not sure that explains the steady reading in the entire area for several reasons.....
  1. Since the electrical service runs down from the roof, if it was the source of the constant yellow reading, then that reading should have registered from the floor to the ceiling in that area... not just from GGs eyes to her thighs.
  2. On a later sweep to retest the area, the K2 did not register any reading in the exact same area...
  3. Subsequent sweeps of the area above, Cathy's closet, did not register any reading... and of the area below, the stairwell to the basement where the electrical service enters the house, only registered a minor increase in energy.
There was also a K2 fluctuation near a dresser in Cathy's bedroom... and, it DID occur at the same moment that the dowsing rods were registering activity in the room.

Dowsing Rods

(crossed rods in Richard's doorway)

Though possibly controversial, metal rods to register electromagnetic energy seems like viable tool. The rods registered activity in several locations throughout the evening, most notably:
  1. The entrance to the kitchen from the living room... At one point, while walking toward the doorway, the rods crossed... As I backed up, they uncrossed... approaching again, they crossed again. This activity was not duplicated in a later sweep.
  2. Cathy's bedroom - There was definitely energy picked up by the rods in the baby's bedroom. As previously mentioned, concurrently with a K2 "hit' but also on several other occasions, including at one point crossing and uncrossing in succession and then 1 rod seemingly pointing toward the crib and 1 toward the doorway at the same time.
  3. Richard's room - There was also definitely energy picked up by the rods here, most notably at the door which looks across to Cathy's bedroom on a couple of occasions. Again, the successive crossing then uncrossing and then both pointing across the hall.
Now, I know many may not believe in the rods... but as the holder of them several times Saturday... there's definitely some paranormal pull on them.

EVP recorder

(recorder in the living room)

Admittedly, I'm a "baby" at analyzing digitally recorded evidence, having never done it before. Also realize that most spirits won't just walk up to you, shake your hand and say "Hi, I'm Richard".... not to mention, some of the EVP's I've listened to online seem somewhat subjective to me.

So, as I'm realizing, the analysis of the recording can be a tedious process - at least at this point in my hobby. I actually had to step away from it to not make myself hear what I wanted to hear... and the floors of the house are creaky as hell, making it difficult to wade through the recording.

That being said, on my initial listening, my fresh ears picked out several instances to analyze... in doing so, I was able to rationalize a few of the noises that I thought I heard. I was also able to determine that I just may not have an explanation for a few...

Radio - Early on we were investigating the family room. At one point GG asked me if there was a radio on. Certainly there wasn't but she said she heard a voice, which I didn't happen to hear. Although very faint, there is definitely a possibility of an EVP at that spot in the recording, further enhancement training is definitely in need, but I CAN say there may be a woman's voice there. GG and her "mother's ears !!!!"

Knocking - Also while we were investigating the family room, we were calling out to Richard to show us a sign of his presence. Immediately after GG uttered ...."even a knock..." the recording picked up a distinct series of 5 successive "knocks"... neither of us had heard that at the time. But, this just may be the sign we were asking for.

Dee - While in the living room, upon the thought that it may be Richard's mother that is haunting the house, I said to GG that we should have asked what his mother's name was. GG replied that she didn't know. BUT, immediately after her response to me, there's a female voice quietly uttering "Dee". Follow-up proved that there was no one named or nick-named Dee in the family but the house is decorated with antique furniture and such as Richard owned an antique shop. So, it very well could be a spirit attached to an object in the house itself, but don't tell Chelsea that it may follow them when they move !!!!

Richard? - While in Richard's bedroom, GG asked, "Where'd you go Richard?". There is an immediate response from what sounds like a male voice. This one needs to be further clarified also, but it would certainly prove again to be a direct response from a present spirit.

Digital Camera

(living room - orbs?)

GG took several photos throughout the evening, many of them containing "orbs". I'm not totally sold on the whole orb phenomena as most of them can be attributed to flash reflections. However, coupled with other simultaneous experiences or evidence, they certainly can help prove paranormal activity.

One photo that caught my eye is the one below that GG took in Richard's bedroom while I was sweeping the door with the K2. The reason it caught my eye is due to the "orb" to the left of the fan stand. This orb appeared more solid than the "standard" transparent orbs caused by camera flash... and it didn't appear in other pictures of the same area....

I must note that on viewing the entire collection of photos taken that night, a friend asked me if there was also the ghost of a little girl in that house (THAT could explain the height of the EMF reading on the stair landing). I'm trying to determine her reason for asking that question, and if she may possibly be a "sensitive" or clairvoyant... if so, SHE'S coming back there with us.....

Digital Video Recorder

We were definitely least prepared here. I do have one but it's an older JVC model and actually records onto digital video tape. And my hopes that it may be night vision capable came crashing down after purchasing an Infrared light source.... although maybe the light is junk...

So, not the greatest of video equipment to have. But our thoughts were that something is better than nothing hoping that it may be able to capture a floating orb or at the very least be a second audio recording device.

With that in mind, we permanently set the camera up in Cathy's room aiming out her door into the hallway, again hoping that if it picked up any evidence, then it was worth bringing it along.

Well, hope became reality upon my initial view of the footage. Although I stared at a black screen for over an hour willing myself to see some "light action", that didn't happen. But, what did happen is that the camera's microphone absolutely picked up 2 definite and 2 more possible noises upstairs while we were downstairs - noises we would not have had evidence of without the video camera.

The first noise picked up was merely 3 or 4 minutes after the tape started rolling so we were downstairs in the family room. This noise sounded like it eminated close to the camera and most resembled the "click" of an older light switch. I actually had left a lamp on in the room at the time and did not see anything but a light switch click is a light switch click.... and it could have been from across the hall as the microphone proved to be very sensitive and we later found out that Richard's "closed" door was OPEN.

The second noise happened about 3 minutes later. Again, this noise sounded relatively close to the camera due to it's clarity. I can't say for sure what this noise was either but it too was some sort of click... but different from that light switch... a lower pitched noise than that... more like a "clunk"... light switch being shut off ??? it does make a different sound.. or a doorknob ????

The other 2 noises that sounded like they came from upstairs while we weren't there were over an hour later and were more distant, possibly from one of the other bedrooms. These weren't clicks or clunks but more like a bang or a "thud"... I guess like the sound a paperback makes if dropped on the floor or a foot.... I'm not trying to be persuasive about what the noise was, just trying to describe the sound it was in terms easier to relate to.

People can debunk and say what they want about recorded evidence.... I'm a show-me kinda guy !!! We definitely experienced paranormal evidence throughout the evening...

The OPEN door - As I mentioned earlier, after the tour by the owners, Richard's door remained closed - this was later confirmed by Bob. Upon our initial investigating of the upstairs, we found the door WIDE OPEN. I have no explanation as I remember Bob closing the door showing us how they witnessed it shut abruptly. ALTHOUGH as I listened to the video, the second noise that the camera captured sounded eerily similar to the sound of me opening the door to exit Richard's room later.... hmmmm

"Malfunctioning" flashlight - GG's flashlight is brand new with brand new batteries. On several occasions - in Richard's room, on the stair landing and in the living room - in conjunction with other activity, the flashlight would flicker and go very dim, despite her every effort to make it work properly. Return visits to the same locations found the flashlight to be working 100%. Remember that spirits are thought to feed off of energy... or even flicker a flashlight to prove their presence.

Cold Rush - While investigating the basement, as I was about to rest the EVP recorder on the stairs, a very sudden cold breeze rushed across my hand, seemingly from the interior of the basement. Attempts to locate a source for a draft proved futile.

The Haunted Clothes Dryer - Ok, this one is still going around in my skull, and I really don't have an explanation, but.... At one point we heard the distinct sound and smell (dryer sheets) of a clothes dryer tumbling... you all know the sound and smell I'm sure... from the basement, accompanied by vocal activity. We were in the kitchen area diagonally above where their dryer is. Realize that we knew the owners were going to be returning from dinner so we assumed that they had quietly returned and went to hang out in the basement to not be in the way.

Much to our surprise, the basement was empty (they weren't even home yet) and inspection of the dryer found the vent hose to be cold as ice - obviously NOT having been run recently.

Ok, so maybe it was the furnace, and somehow it sounds like a dryer... that doesn't explain the smell or the voices.... but when we inspected the furnace, it appeared to be relatively new and should NOT rattle like a dryer.

When the owners returned, we asked them if their furnace is noisy. They replied that it was, despite being brand new.... SO, STILL not satisfied with that explanation (being a show-me kinda guy), we tested the noise of the furnace by spiking the thermostat to kick it on.

Now, when the furnace kicked on, I'll admit there was noise... but it in NO WAY sounded (or smelled) like a clothes dryer running in the basement... the noise the furnace makes isn't the furnace itself, it's the walls of the house (sounds like radiators need to be bled - suggest that GG) that were making noise in the very room we were in.

Further confirming that the noise we heard wasn't from the furnace is the fact that what WE heard was NOT captured on the digital recorder, yet the house noises from the starting of the furnace were captured clearly... and even if it was the furnace, what about the smell of dryer sheets and the sound of voices below us????

So, being probably less active than we both hoped for, can i definitely say this house is haunted??? I don't think I can say that - YET..... I will continue to educate myself with regard to the audio analysis process to determine what I may have missed in listening to the recording so far. But, I wouldn't be surprised if it is the spirit of Richard trying to know his grand daughter, as he died before she was born.

By the same token, can I say this house ISN'T haunted ??? I definitely can't say THAT !!! Despite being a somewhat "quiet" 3 hours, there were definitely signs of activity that I have no reasonable explanation for. Besides, many investigations of documented paranormal hot spots can go an entire night with less activity than we experienced. Plus, I have my own personal poltergeist and would never doubt any one's word as to activity that they have experienced.... but, personal experience of said activity would definitely be a plus.

At the very least, it was an interesting and educational evening with a good friend. We may be virgins at this but I certainly believe we investigated in a pretty professional manner, trying to explain everything we could as we experienced it. We made 2 sweeps of the house and the areas that produced activity we couldn't initially explain, we revisited several times to try to do so....

What we did experience brought up questions.... questions we have considered trying to have answered by performing a Ouija seance... so, to Richard, Dee and/or any other spirit that may be in that house west of Hartford.....

WE'LL BE BACK !!!!!!!!!!!
Come Inside...
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Wednesday's Word(s)

Well, it's been several days.. I've been experiencing some technical difficulties... and I've been snapping a lot of pictures of the local scenery.

First, a shout out to Bob of CT Ghost Seekers for the kind words once again.

I know I missed last week's Wednesday Word so this week's post will be an extended version and will also be directly related to the ghost hunt that I was involved in last night. I wanted to be better prepared to record evidence of what TheCrimeBrat and I experienced. So, today's post will be about some of the equipment used for investigating the paranormal.

1) EVP (recorder) - EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomena... as defined by Haunted Realm Paranormal Investigators... "A voice recorded on a tape or digital recorder from which there is no known or logical source".... or "Disembodied voices and sounds imprinted on audio recording devices".

Ok, that makes sense given the definition of phenomena... obviously, some of us are "lucky" enough to physically hear these noises - at the descretion of the spirit. But, most often these voices can only be picked up by a recorder as the frequency with which they are spoken is not within the range heard by the human ear.. BUT, if you have a pet (dog).....

As I last posted, I had tested and determined that my Blackberry had too many drawbacks to be an effective device for the recording/analyzing of EVP. So, I picked up an Olympus WS-400 S digital voice recorder....
...and am I glad I did!!!! With the stereo XHQ recording mode, the clarity of the playback instantly proved to be far superior than that of the crackberry. And with the built-in USB port, tranferring a 2-1/2 hr recording to my computer took about a minute - and that time included the device being installed on my machine... and I was immediately able to open the file with Windows Media Player, proving the files recorded by the WS-400 S (in .wma format) are 100% compatible with windows based software applications.

Going hand in hand with a recorder is an audio editing program in order to analyze those faint "voices" that are picked up by the recorder. I've decided to initially try a program called Wavepad - although the possibilities are endless once the recording is save on my computer. In checking into the different programs available, I happened across the site of paranormal investigator Billy Connelly at Bill's software of choice is Wavepad... whom am I to argue??? ... especially after viewing several of his investigations that are posted on his website... great job and some great info there...

Note: I also most recently installed the Nero 9 multimedia suite which has audio and video editing modules.... I'm not sure of their functionality as of yet, but I'm looking forward to testing them.... maybe I'll turn myself into a video producer !!!!*

*Update on Nero 9 Wave Editor... great program too, but uses a LOT of resources, leaving me on the fence....

2) EMF meter - EMF stands for Electro Magnetic Field.... um, energy field... Whereas it is widely speculated that over exposure to high levels of electromagnetism can be an agent to the development of cancer, EMF meters, like digital recorders, are common instruments that have been around for many years.... and also used by more that just scientists.

Each and every electronic and electric device emits electromagnetism... yes, appliances, computers, CELL PHONES .... so EMF meters were produced in order to determine "safe levels" of electromagnetic exposure... although I have yet to find a chart that specifies what is safe... or even a report....

Anyway, it is also a common belief among paranoramalists that the presence of electromagnetism signifies the presence of a spirit.... or that spirits themselves emit (AND attain energy from) electro-magnetic fields.... again, research of several investigations have shown investigators using EMF meters as a means of communication with spirits... you be the judge.

That being said, I felt the need to acquire an EMF meter, if only to feel more professional.... so, once again I scoured the Internet in search of (RIP Leonard Nimoy) a trust-worthy yet affordable EMF meter.

Again my diligence paid off as I found (and purchased) a K2 meter...

....a simple to read yet somewhat sophisticated, accurate and trusted piece of equipment among paranormal investigators - from...........................

The K2 appears to be a staple in an investigator's arsenal of equipment and perhaps one's initial step into the science of the paranormal.... the next step will be a "Mel-meter"...

3) Dowsing (Divining) Rods - These are probably one of the more primitive and controversial, yet most highly recognizable, items to be used by a paranormal investigator.... I will admit my ignorance here !!!!! uh, if you've never heard of or pretended to use a divining rod to find water, you must have been born yesterday...

For the purposes of paranormal investigating, a pair of "L"-shaped metals rods are used, as opposed to the universally known, "Y"-shaped stick....

.... as a means of either direct communication with a spirit or to signify the presence of a spirit... ie, questions can be asked with the reply to be a certain movement of the rods... or, unsolicited movement is believed to be either the presence of electromagnetism or a spirit physically moving the rods.

Like with Ouija boards, skeptics debunk the usage as the holder's personal magnetic energy or movement... but, as a true believer in the power of the Ouija.... I believe in their validity (ESPECIALLY after my personal experience - tomorrow's post).....

Well, there you have THREE Wednesday's Words... I should be good for a week or so.. tomorrow I will report on our personal experiences with the equipment and investigation from last night. I wanted to post this on Thursday but had MANY computer related issues and wasn't able to... maybe that was for the best...


Come Inside...
2 screams

Crackpot (jackpot?) With a Crackberry

YUP, yesterday it was Friday the 13th. Every month that we have one I declare it as my favorite day... not sure why, perhaps I'm a non-conformist... or more likely, I am superstitious to the point that I feel I need to try personal reverse psychology.

Again, it's been a few days but not necessarily a boring few days. Research continues. D.A.R.T. has asked me of my knowledge about a few more places in CT., hopefully be able to plan a haunted weekend in Connecticut. Not originally being from this state, I hadn't heard of any, although I have now !!!

So, I am studying up on and am going to try contact the curators of the New London Ledge Lighthouse, Penfield Reef Lighthouse and the Huntington Homestead. I will do a post later as to what I've found so far but don't have a lot of time right now.

Camp CT continues to "reside" in Colchester. I took a ride by the camp during the day to try to debunk the white "vision" I saw when I visited. I needed to see during the daylight exactly how far down the dirt road the main sign is from the point at which I first noticed it.

It was a clear day and many leaves have fallen so the sign is PLAINLY visible from the gate... and MUCH closer to the gate that I had originally thought - I could easily see a deer standing near the the sign, looking at me, without the use of binoculars !!!

So, I roughly guesstimated the sign to be 300 or 400 feet from the gate. I could be way off but it's at least half the distance than I thought it was, showing me that my friend and I were much closer to the sign that I thought... probably halfway to it.

NOW, this realization proved to me that it was NOT the sign that I saw that night - what I saw was much further into the camp. TRUE, that doesn't make what I saw a spirit, but it does make what I saw NOT that sign....

A lot of my research lately has involved some of the equipment and how it is used by professional ghost hunters. This stems from the fact that I have a date with a ghost... My personal hunt with TheCrimeBrat has been scheduled for next Saturday, the 21st. Obviously, we will be discussing the details before hand so I will post a "Preview to the Poltergeist" (or something like that) closer to Saturday.

We don't have a lot of the "fancy" gadgets normally used so that prompted me to do some testing in order to decide if we may have more than we think.

Along with researching Digital Voice (EVP) Recorders), I tested my Blackberry as a one... placing it on my kitchen table and going about my business. I was more than pleasantly surprised by it's sensitivity and ability to pick up distant sounds... I feigned a "cough" from around the corner and down the hall which was loud and clearly audible.

Playback through the external speaker was quite unprofessional but the fact that it picked up my cough clearly from down the hall as I was walking in the opposite direction, prompted me to try to figure out how I listen to this more clearly.

So, I listened to the recording through the ear-bud headphones that came with the phone - I've always liked how much better music sounds through them. Using the headphones made the playback much easier to hear... a lot less "hum", so I was able to hear more than just my cough... NO, I didn't here voices. Actually, I'm still testing that !!!!

While researching actually recorders and from seeing Paranormal Activity TWICE, it's apparent that professionals upload their recordings to a computer and analyze them with some sort of software. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO....

I uploaded my recording to my computer and tried to listen to it that way. That's when I realized drawback #1.... Cell phones are obviously not made for EVP recording as they use a compression format known as AMR - Adaptive Multi-Rate - and save files as ".amr" files instead of a standard format like ".wav", ".wma" or an mp3. So, It wasn't recognized by Windows Media Player or any of the regular media players I have...

Although I was able to determine that .arm files can be played by Quick Time Player and I did download the .amr player from above, the quality wasn't much better than listening to it directly from the Blackberry... and neither of these players offer much in the way of analyzing and editing recording - they are merely players...

SOOOOOOOOO... I downloaded several different sound analyzing/editing programs to see, if any, what options they offer to be able to decipher otherwise inaudible sounds. Here's where I ran into more drawbacks... none of the software I found was able to readily play an .amr file, although some support them enough to be able to convert them to a more universal format. So I did that, but with the thought of possibly losing some of the integrity of the data recorded (drawback)...

I spent literally hours playing the recording testing different programs to drop out the "hum" - which I later considered could be caused by the fact that cell phones emit a radio signal... DUH !!!! I should have disconnected it from the wireless network... or it could be the energy emitted from the battery itself... or maybe the refrigerator even...

I also realized by using these programs that obviously cell phones record in "mono" (drawback?) instead of" stereo", and thought it may be better to be able to analyze the separate left and right channels in order to truly realize what has been recorded.

In any event, along with the fun I had with these programs, I was able to clarify the recording to the point where I could ascertain the sounds of cars passing by (most likely).... with the house closed up tight and the phone being probably 75-100 feet from the street... hmmmm. I was also able to ascertain that I need to learn more about analyzing recordings for EVP - be looking for THAT post....

With only a week to go until the hunt, I decided that although perhaps an option, using my Blackberry to try to capture EVP's just may may not be a GOOD option... too many variables involved... not mention that site explained that .amr may be good for simple voice recording, but not much else... another drawback.

So, the search was on for a Digital Voice Recorder. I won't go into the details involved in that search as you know that I am very thorough... and frankly it would make a boring post...

BUT... I did purchase what seemed like a much better (and cheap) alternative on eBay.. the Olympus WS-400S ... It certainly isn't the top of the line but it records in stereo, has an XHQ (EXTRA high quality) recording mode, has 1 Gb of memory (up to 272 hours of recording time), can connect directly to my computer (no USB cable needed) and saves files in the .wma format... so, no conversion needed... it was LOCAL... and the price was right... SLAM DUNK....

I need to wrap this post up as I'm going to pick up my new toy today. I will testing this new recorder to help me understand better how to use it.. I will ALSO be performing extensive testing on software and how professionals use it to decipher EVP's.

But, before I go, I WILL share my latest experience with MY ghost. Perhaps because it was Friday the 13th... perhaps not....

I was in my room last night laying down with Snoopy watching X-Men on my Blackberry... no one else was home.... SUDDENLY.... {knock, know, knock knock}... I heard 4 very distinct... VERY close knocks... ummmm, actually they were on my bedroom door which was ajar at the time.. I know it was my door because I have hollow-core doors and they make a very distinctive sound...

Needless to say, I was a bit freaked as it was late and the house was dark, including my room... except for my Blackberry screen...

I called out "Who's there?", hoping it was a child of mine.. no answer... I stopped the movie and focused the light from my Blackberry toward the door... nothing... I snapped a quick picture.... nothing.... I turned on the light and investigated.. nothing and no one... hmmmm.

So, I don't know what it was, but I DO know that SOMEONE(THING) knocked 4 times on my door last night........................ gotta run !!!

Come Inside...
0 screams

- All's Quiet On My Paranormal Front

Uh, if THAT were true, I wouldn't be writing this post.... I may have been quiet, but haven't been dormant.

Let's see... where to begin...

Well, in light of my most last post with the recent evidence of activity at Camp CT, I'll start with this past Saturday night.

It was a nice evening and I had plans to see Paranormal Activity (AGAIN) with a friend whom hadn't seen it yet. I suggested we start the "festivities" by taking a ride by the camp prior to seeing the movie... in hopes of heightening the anxiety.
We only had about 10 minutes but decided to park across the street and at least approach the gate to look down the dirt road, already darkened by the night - unfortunately it wasn't one of those VERY moonlit nights that we have recently experienced, and I totally forgot my flashlight.
The darkness and adrenalin got the best of me and I entered the property around the side of the gate, followed by my friend, with the thought of walking down the road to the main sign, where there has been evidence recorded of a lot of activity.
I have no recorded evidence but we never made it to the sign, for several reasons, mainly because I was totally unprepared to record any potential evidence. But, I still needed to be in there, if only for 10 minutes.
A very short distance in.. 100 feet or so... don't really know due to the darkness... we stopped in our tracks as something seemingly substantial in size landed in the leaves along the side of the road to our left.... hmmmm, ok, tree branch, animal or some sort of nut falling ??? There was no wind, but it's possible.
A few steps later, we stopped again... "Did, you hear THAT? What was it?" Now we just stood still to not rustle the leaves... and listened.... AND... heard another noise, forcing the same 2 questions to be asked.
I'm certainly no expert in audible recognition, but I'd bet my paycheck that I heard some noises that shouldn't have been present in the still of the night in the deserted woods of Colchester.
One of the noises distinctly sounded like a low groan to me, debunked by my friend as a wolf? I know some towns in CT contain a high wolf population but I'm pretty sure Colchester isn't included on that list - although I did see one crossing Rt 6 in Windham once, 20 miles to the north... but I'm sticking to my low groan theory - hell, it's MY blog.... and it makes it more interesting.
Now the 3rd noise I really couldn't make out real well... but my friend said it sounded like a guitar... interesting, with the recorded evidence of a small child singing.... HMMMM
Upon hearing this 3rd noise, I focused my eyes down the darkened road... only to see something white in the darkness. I continued to adjust my vision but this object remained in my sights. Now I know the main sign is down the road but it is big and rectangular - my object was small and roundish.... hmmmm
I didn't tell my friend about this "vision" I had seen that night but I continued to focus down the road at it as we retreated from the camp to attend the movie, still seeing it as we exited to the other side of the gate...

"Oddly", my personal spirit may have possibly made its presence known again... It was earlier that same Saturday. It was in the morning I was "alone" in my kitchen fixing a cup of coffee. Faithful companion Snoopy was (I determined later) in the adjoining living room asleep on the couch. As I was fixing this cup of coffee, I heard a very distinct and very audible.... COUGH... A single cough but definitely a cough.
My first action was to see if Snoopy had wandered into the kitchen... he's a sneezer for sure but perhaps he had coughed..... NOPE, on the couch asleep. So, I tried to explain this noise by thinking that maybe he coughed in his sleep (he DOES dream)... The possibilities of this seem relatively low as the cough was very loud, distinct and to my right... the doorway to the living room was diagonally behind me, 20 feet across the kitchen and he was on far end of the couch which is 10 feet from the doorway, along the same wall.... meaning HIS "cough" would have had to travel in a round-about way from him to my eardrum.... HMMMMMM...

I continue to be actively researching the paranormal and have opened live communications with 2 professional investigators... The first is Steve from Ghost Chat New England. Steve commented on the "Part 2" post about Camp CT as he was the cameraman and producer of the video of their daytime visit that I linked to in that post. Steve's comments prompted me to join their community so that I could thank him for his comments and try to establish a line of communication. My efforts were successful and I'm hoping to be able to use their experiences as a learning tool.
Along those same lines, I have also established an open line of communication with Eric from D.A.R.T., a paranormal investigator from Dartmouth MA. Eric is a friend of a friend and I was told that he had been relayed the info I had on Camp CT and was interested in trying to do an investigation there, as well as at some other sites around the state. Being a resident here, I thought it might be easier for me to gather some of the required information and privileges, so I offered to help in that regard. So, I have lots of research going on.

I have been offered 2 opportunities to be involved in paranormal investigations. The first was from TheCrimeBrat and is at a private residence in West Hartford. Both being amateurs at this, we won't have all the sophisticated tools that the professionals use to gather evidence. But we're hoping that a digital camera, digital voice recorder and a digital video camera will be able to capture at least some compelling evidence that is forcing these people out of their home. It SHOULD prove to make a pretty interesting blog post !!!!
The other opportunity came from Eric. Later this month his team will be investigating the Quechechan Club in Fall River MA - a proven haunting ground for spirits of the past. D.A.R.T. is graciously inviting enthusiasts to join them on this hunt so they can experience it first hand and get to see all the fancy gadgets and instruments at work...

The research required for my post about witches sparked an interest in me to find out more about this religion. Being a spiritual and religion of nature is consistent with my beliefs and love for the outdoors... AND FIRE !!! So, I have borrowed a few books on Wicca from TheCrimeBrat in order to gain a better understanding, at the very least.

So, it's been "quiet" here - BWA HA HA HA HA... "continual progression"... Hmmmm, I remember reading that SOMEWHERE !!!

I need to get hopping on my research... and I need to take a ride by the camp - to satisfy one curiosity in the daylight....


Come Inside...
2 screams

- A Haunting in (Camp) Connecticut - Part 3

Well, well, well... despite my personal declaration that I was going to shut down my blogs, Camp CT has resurfaced.... as has my desire to post...

Further research has uncovered substantial RECENT evidence of paranormal activity at this camp in the beloved Colchester, CT.... previous evidence was speculative having been posted by thrill-seekers.

BUT..... CT Ghost Seekers apparently performed an investigation on the property as recently as September 19th, 2009 !!!!! Armed with some tools of the trade, I will share some of their actual UNEDITED pics...

According to their report it was a mild September evening with an average air temperature of 55 degrees. Unfortunately their investigation was cut short as they encountered a "caretaker", who informed them that would have to leave as it IS private property...

However, within the campground itself, the temperature was somewhat different....

... physically recording a maximum temperature reading of 40 degrees with cold spots registering up to 20 degrees colder !!!! Hmmmmm...

In my continuing effort to "leave no stone unturned", I found the weather data for that entire day at Weather Underground... their closest PWS (portable weather station) is located in Moodus, which is the next town over, so assume that Colchester was experiencing similar conditions. Here's a snapshot of the average weather stats for that day...

...if you click the link above to the weather underground, you can see hour by hour graphs and a chart that details the weather for the entire 24 hrs on that day in 5 minute intervals... GREAT resource.

Not knowing the exact time of CT Ghost Seekers' investigation, I quickly averaged the readings for the time period of 8 pm to midnight to determine what they were actually experiencing at the time they were in the camp...

Air Temp: 48 degrees
Dew Point: 42.5 degrees
Barometer: 29.9 inches, 1010 millibars
Wind: 0.0 mph
Humidity: 83%

Cloud statistics were NA - not sure if that means Not Applicable or Not Available in this case. Assuming the worst case and here it means Not Available, let's also assume it was a clear evening as weather conditions are critical in an investigation and no reputable team would investigate during adverse conditions.... and The Old Farmer's Almanac reports a mean visibility for that day of 10 miles.

I have to tip my hat to CT Ghost Seekers for recording some definitive evidence of the activity at Camp CT.... here are some more pics... I'm not totally sold on pictures of "orbs" I've seen to date, but....

.... that's a shitload of "orbs" to debunk and that one in the lower picture is the size of a basketball... looks a bit ectoplasmic too... many times orbs are debunked as camera flash and flashlight reflections off of anything from insects to air moisture to internal camera components.

Also photographed were some of the previously reported "floating mists"... these have been apparent to many of the visitors...

Ok, I'm no meteorologist or geologist and I don't know the physical characteristics of that particular piece of property. So understand that there ARE natural "phenomena" that occur beneath the surface of the ground that COULD debunk SOME of the evidence that has been posted, ie sub-surface ground temperature, groundwater levels and/or underground springs and bedrock composition... BUT !!!!

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I offer this one.... INCREDIBLE !!!!!!!

Now, I MAY be new at this but............. I absolutely see a black shadow figure in this pic !!!!!!!!!

If you're not sold on the fact that there is paranormal activity at Camp CT by now, I direct you to CT Ghost Seeker's website. The absolute pinnacle of the evidence they collected is this EVP recording of a child singing... which had been reported several times by others, but not previously recorded, that I know of. They didn't personally hear this out loud, but rather discovered it when reviewing their evidence.... You MUST listen to this !!!

Now, obviously I'm still learning about all of this, but come on !!!! This latest compelling evidence has absolutely made it a MUST for me to experience at least some of this first hand. I don't have the equipment and I wouldn't necessarily trespass (cough, cough), BUT.... I do have a plan which I will share in my next post !!!!!

You're absolutely invited to visit the Ghost Seeker's site to see additional photos of this and several other of their investigations... Oh and, one of their team members reports being touched.... I'll be looking further in the physical characteristics of this piece of land...

Resources requiring credit for the writing of this post...

CT Ghost Seekers - GREAT stuff guys !!!

Happy H(A)UNTING !!!

Come Inside...
3 screams

- "WITCHES" - fact or fiction

Wednesday's Word... uh, Friday edition.

We all know what witches are, right? ... green skin, black hat, big nose with warts, ugly and EVIL... the first thing that comes to mind is the wicked witch of the west from The Wizard of Oz.... I mean Halloween just passed, did you not see MANY of these depictions?

But what about "Bewitched"? Certainly Samantha (RIP, Elizabeth Montgomery) was none of the above.... although Endora (Sam's mom) on the other hand....

Then there's "Charmed". Certainly these 3 ladies don't fall into the typical stereotype of what a witch is...

So, then what exactly is a witch?
(more in a bit)

Do they really exist?
Simply put... YES

Do they cast spells?
Simply put... YES

Are they ugly?
Is Stevie Nicks ugly?

Are they EVIL?
Simply put... NO

SOOOOOOO... what is a witch? A REAL witch is a member (male AND female - warlocks are traitors) of one of the denominations of the Church of Wicca (which means, wise). It is a spiritual and nature-based, religion... and probably most similar to beliefs of Native Americans (think about it). Although relatively new as a recognized religion in the USA, the theology of The Craft dates back centuries.

Wiccans do worship their own "gods"... actually, the Triple (moon) Goddess - maiden (birth), mother (fertility) and crone (death) - perhaps why witches are usually depicted as women... and is symbolized by the triple moon symbol - waxing, full and waning moons

They also worship a Horned (sun) God that is male, symbolizing nature and sexuality...

This polytheism is said to signify that the universe and ourselves are made up of and controlled by both female and male energies.

Wiccans do not worship the devil.. THAT would be devil worshippers... actually, they don't even believe in an entity such as that. The misnomer is perhaps rooted in the fact that the Wiccan Symbol is a pentagram...

as is a Satanist's....

The points of the Wiccan pentagram stand for the elements - Air, Earth, Fire and Water... with the top point standing for Spirituality... enclosed in a circle to denote unity.

Note how Satanists invert the pentagram (note the goat) to put Spirituality on the bottom and the 2 points, Fire (passion) and Earth (earthly goods) on the top...

Wiccans do practice magic (magick) and cast spells as they believe that everyone has the spiritual strength and ability to bring about change. BUT the tenet of The Law of Attraction (basically, what goes around comes around - and some believe 3-fold) certainly makes these spells positive and are supposed to be cast to bring good to oneself or one's family.

The other tenets of the religion are Deity, Reincarnation (continual progression), Power Through Knowledge (wisdom) and Harmony.

Common tools used during the magic ritual include a pentacle, a sword, a wand, and a chalice. BUT, the rituals may also include a knife, a broomstick, a cauldron, candles and incense (GO FIGURE !!!)

Although there is no formal book of teaching, Wiccans do, as in Charmed, have a Book of Shadows. This is a personal journal consisting of spells, potions, beliefs etc. And as in Charmed, many times it is passed down from generation to generation to teach the others of the family and also to be continued to be added to.

Another symbol of the Craft is the Triquetra, as is depicted on Charmed....

The Triquetra is an old Celtic symbol that stands for the power or unity three"... hmm, 3 Charmed Sisters". In Wicca, it is also said to sometimes denote Triple Goddess.

There is no centralized set of rules as they believe people are individuals and are free to practice the Craft in the way that suits them best. But there is one central "commandment", the "Rede"... "An ye harm none, do what ye will".... obviously denouncing intentionally hurting others - everyone is responsible for their own actions.

Anyway, without going into the various sects of the Wiccan religion (that could be a series of posts), or pushing any more religion on you.... YES, witches are real !!!! They are ordinary people that happen to practice a different religion... you probably all know one. And the fact that they practice magic as a part of their beliefs, makes them much more active in their religion than myself.

And for the record, Stevie Nicks IS a Wiccan.... and she's far from ugly !!!!

A little help from my friends (major contributers):
- - Website of the Church and School of Wicca

- Wikipedia - articles - "Wicca", "Triple Goddess", "Pentagram", "Book of Shadows", "Triquetra"


Happy H(A)UNTING !!!
Come Inside...
0 screams

The "Doctor" Is In - The "Net" - continued

While researching independent speed tests on the different different browsers I stumbled upon a couple of sites that I found useful, both for my research and for me as a blogger. In personally testing different browsers I experienced the truth in the fact that different browsers interpret the scripts that my blog page is written in... um DIFFERENTLY !!! But taking a screen shot using each browser honestly didn't occur to me.
Then I found this free site called Although most likely an invaluable tool for web designers as there is a section to submit your own personal site designs to share and also a very sophisticated color matching tool, I'm sure that I (and other bloggers?) could definitely find use for this service. I already signed up for a FREE account, and may just try submitting my page for shits and giggles.

But for this post I used it's service that takes screenshots of any website that you supply the URL for, using any or all of the 80 or so different browsers and versions they offer. Unfortunately Google Chrome wasn't in the list.

I was pleased to see that I wasn't going crazy (well...) thinking that my page viewed differently using different browsers. To demonstrate, here are a couple of the shots taken:

What YOU see isn't always what THEY get.... As you can see, even with this very simple page design(I use Firefox, so I see it that way), if you compare the headers which I circled in red, Internet Explorer reads the formatting totally different. Finally I had proof that different browsers read the language differently but this was also a bit upsetting to me, now knowing that my page actually could look like shit depending on which browser views it. But, just one of those things we're stuck with.

Also potentially valuable is that I had browsershots take screenshots on another of my blog pages, The "J" Files, which loads slower due to the embedded playlist. Theses proved at the very least that Internet Explorer is the SLOWEST browser, but again, the shots aren't all taken by the same computer so system resources could effect the results. Assuming that the amount of time this service allows for a page to load before taking the screenshot is consistent, here are the shots from the "Big 3":

As you can see, in the Safari shot, the entire page loaded... the Firefox shot was about halfway loaded.... the Internet Explorer shot didn't even get the playlist loaded, further proving my findings about browser speeds. This may be useful to bloggers as obviously multimedia-rich pages take longer to load.
Along those same lines, I also came across this site called when I was researching ping testing. More than just another ping service, pingdom also offers a page load test. Again, input any URL and the service will ping the site and report how fast the page loads. But more than that, it produces a detailed report that shows how long it takes for each ELEMENT of the page to load:
Again, potentially more valuable to bloggers and web designers but it was interesting to see which elements take the longest to load. I will certainly keep it in mind when posting and/or building another blog page.

There's a bit more on my browser testing. This will be the last post that I post on all 3 of my blogs, trying to keep the subject matter of each consistent with each respective theme... PLUS, I've been neglecting the others !!!

Anyway, please bookmark or subscribe to The Doctor Is In to stay up to date.... THANKS !!!

The "doctor" has left the building

Come Inside...
0 screams

The Doctor Is In - Lesson 3 - Browsers

All browsers are created equal.. OH CONTRARE !!!!!!

First, let me preface this post by assuming that everyone is already running some soft of protection suite that includes anti-virus, anti-malware, firewall, and identity protection at the very least. And in the age of email and instant messaging, it is important to be sure these utilities also protect those applications. Knowing what ASSuming means, I already have a topic for my next post.

Now that you all have your computer systems and Internet optimized, you're ready to tackle the Internet. So, today I'll share some of my knowledge and experience that I have gained through necessity and testing.

As a point of reference, I will share my bandwidth (speed) test results while using several different browsers. Then I will share my thoughts on them. Understand that in order to be as accurate as possible all the tests were performed at the same site ( and under the same conditions... immediately after optimizing my computer AND my browsers as described in previous posts, in "private browsing" and with the test site being the only tab open. This is what I got:

Internet Explorer 8..

Firefox 3.5.4............

Safari 4....................

Avant Browser .........

Netscape Navigator 9

Opera 10....................

Google Chrome...........

Well, well, well... looks like a no-brainer as to which browser is faster right ??? Note that these are strictly POTENTIAL data transfer rates and depend on your ISP, system configuration, optimizations etc. But, they are a good place to start at least - or are they ???

Transfer rates aside, there are many technical factors that are involved in how web sites are built and how a particular browser performs, like how they read and interpret the different versions of the "language" used to build pages (** BE SURE TO KEEP JAVA UPDATED !!!), how they compress the data being transferred and the system resources required to do so (hence, the importance of optimizing your computer), to name a few.

I did a LOT of research on browser comparisons. Although Google Chrome has been advertised as the FASTEST browser going, according to my personal data transfer rate (above), that just isn't so. But all the comparison tests point to this being true..... or is it???

I was going to include some tester's personal results but truth be told, their results don't compare to how these browsers worked in conjunction with my personal system and ISP. So, your experiences may differ too. Here's some personal observations. And just to note, all the statistics aside, two personal "tests" are simply how quickly I can scroll a web-page once I have my browser load it - particularly Facebook - and how smoothly videos buffer on Youtube.... maybe archaic but....

Internet Explorer - Internet Explorer is undoubtedly the grand-daddy of browsers, the only test result I could find that rated it number 1 (most rate it SLOWEST - I agree) was from Microsoft... go figure. True that the data transfer rates are among the best, OBVIOUSLY some of the other factors involved need to be visited by IE developers. NOT to mention there seems to be compatibility issues with Blogger... the host of this blog. IE is definitely not near the top of the list of browsers, according to my testing.

Avant Browser - Definitely a fast browser - pages load fast, videos streams fast and data transfer rates amongst the best, definitely high on the speed list. BUT, I personally experienced incompatibility with some sites, including Blogger.

Safari - Honestly probably the fastest browser out there. I wasn't aware that they made a Windows version until recently, but once I did, Safari was definitely my default browser (due to issues with Firefox). One drawback I found was that my Comcast toolbar wasn't compatible with this browser. AND I also found that certain functions in Blogger weren't able to be used.

Google Chrome - Chrome is also a VERY fast browser, despite it's apparent data transfer rate result. Google makes this happen by making it a stripped down version of an IE based browser, but THAT makes it absent of some of the user-friendly features available to users of the "bigger" browsers. Like others, a major drawback to me was the lack of ability to use some features on Blogger... a bit odd as Google owns Blogger. Another drawback was it lacked in it's ability to stream videos, lagging throughout.

Opera - Again a very fast browser, despite it's apparent data transfer rate... pages load fast, videos stream fast and play smoothly. Personal drawbacks include lack of compatibility with particular web-sites, not limited to Texas Hold 'Em poker and once again, Blogger.

Netscape Navigator - Honestly I didn't even know this browser was still functional - actually, it isn't. Although I was able to perform 1 speed test, once I closed it, it wouldn't open again, so further testing wasn't possible - probably a good thing.

Firefox - That leaves Firefox... Firefox is probably one of the few browsers out there that are totally independent of an IE structure - and THAT's a good thing. Although the precipitous for researching other browser options was the fact that Firefox 3.5 had EXTREME issues with crashing, Mozilla has corrected that and I personally have experienced a great surprise in Firefox's newfound stability in version 3.5.4. (**note, I am currently running the Beta version of version 3.6, which was just released).

No, I am not an authority on web browsers, and can only share my personal experiences. That being said, despite the "apparent" low data transfer rate, Firefox obviously has a good handle on data compression. Firefox still appears to me to be the best (and SAFEST) web browser there is.... videos stream fast, pages load fast, ALL aspects of Blogger are compatible... hell, even Facebook pages reload without lag.

These are just my personal experiences based on the browsers I've tried and my own surfing activity. Obviously everyone's own system and activity could result in a different experience. but for MY "money", I'm sticking with Firefox, as long as they can continue to address the past crashing issues...

This is simply a sharing of personal experience. Everyone's activity and system will play a factor in their personal results. But, even if you're happy with the way your browser responds, just know that there ARE other options out there that just may surprise you.

Online (and system) security will be a future post but my next post will "reveal" some helpful information that I have stumbled across for bloggers.... either way, keep reading... PLEASE ?!?!?!?

The "doctor" has left the building

Come Inside...
0 screams

The "Doctor" Is In - Lesson 2A - The "Net"

Yesterday I shared some simple tips to help keep your computer running more efficiently.... REMEMBER THE OPTIMIZER !!!

Today, I'll take it another step to share some tips to try to help your internet experience be a more pleasant one. Again, I'm keeping in mind the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) mentality, mainly because that works best for me !!! So, I will keep it simple while still offering some tips that may help to improve your online time.

The reason for describing SYSTEM optimizing tips first IS simple, the more resources your computer uses to run, the less resources that are available to help your internet connection run smooth, right?

There are many factors that determine how "satisfied" you are with your internet experience - and although many are beyond your control, there are definitely some things to consider to help when you are surfing.

The "Bad" - I'll start with some things that we just have to live with. Unfortunately we are all somewhat at the mercy of others. It can get pretty technical but we have no control over site traffic, server capabilities, "flash" applications, "mime", javascript etc. Suffice to say, the more interactive or "fancy" a particular site is, the more resources needed in order to display it properly.

Websites are built using code known as HTML.. and more recently, XHTML (XML). Although the theory of this language is universal, there are many variations derived from the basic concept, much like English in the USA is spoken differently in different parts of the country - and THAT causes problems.

Facebook users know this all too well and a big part of the problems encountered there are because Facebook developers have created their own version of HTML which isn't always compatible with the versions that all the third party applications use - never mind the compatibility issues between HTML and XML in general. So, we're left to "deal with it".

Our hands are also tied (don't shoot me fellow bloggers) by sites that host multiple pages, streaming audio (guilty), video, multiple pictures, advertisements, "pop-up" clouds, multiple hyperlinks, etc as these all put additional strain on our own system resources.

That's not to say that there aren't things that you can to do to help ease the strain. Again, yesterday's tips for optimizing your system will help. Obviously the very beginning depends on how many programs, browser windows and tabs you are trying to run simultaneously... LESS IS BEST !!!!

And now I'll get into the "good", and help explain some other simple "fixes" that will help you enjoy the internet more. First some points of reference....

Bandwidth (Data Transfer Rate, uh....speed) - The key to your internet experience is the POTENTIAL speed that your ISP (internet service provider - ie, Comcast, AT&T, Charter) provides you with. Basically what this is is the amount of data capable of being transmitted per second. Yesterday I gave you a snapshot of my system, today I will tell you that I have Comcast Internet's 3rd tier - download speeds up to 15 megabits (mb)/second normal, up to 30mb/second with "powerboost" (LOVE THAT). Ok, ok, ok so WTF does THAT mean ?!?! Well, if you understand that 15mb = 1.75 MB (30mb - 3.5MB) and a typical mp3 song is 4-5 MB, it means.... ISP (Comcast) provides me with the potential to download files as indicated above.

First, if you don't know what your speed is SUPPOSED to be, then find out from your provider. But understand that what they tell you is the MAXIMUM you will experience. There are other factors involved but you should experience at least 80% of the maximum... ie, if you are rated for 6mbps (AT&T's maximum), expect around 5...

If you're interested (and HIGHLY recommended) you can test your own speed at and although there are many, these are the 2 main test sites used by technicians. Note that when you run speed tests you should run a minimum of 3 tests (and take the average)... I usually run at least 5...

"Ping" - Now, WHEN you got to you'll notice a link to another site, GO THERE TOO !!!! This site will allow you to run a "ping" test, which basically will tell you the amount of time it takes to transfer a packet of data and how much data is "lost" in that transfer... basically it tells you the condition of YOUR line to the server... results look like this...

I recommend that you run these tests BEFORE and AFTER making any changes so that you know how the changes affect your own performance...

Ok, testing done, and whether or not you're happy with your surfing speed, there are things that you can do/change to improve internet performance...

Toolbars , Add-ons, Gadgets.... BAD BAD BAD.... Web browsers and websites offer these wonderful "shortcut" utilities to make browsing "faster". Toolbars are just that, provided by services mainly to keep their names in your face... Yahoo has one, AIM has one, Facebook has one, Twitter has one, etc... Add-ons and gadgets are extensions of your toolbar offered by other services... basically "quick" links to THEIR page or service, or even live feeds from a particular site.... GET RID OF THEM !!!! or at the very least HIDE THEM.... Along with offering a bit of convenience, these "services" suck up bandwidth and resources... ESPECIALLY the animated and "ticker" ones. Bye Bye Bye... I will admit that along with the standard Firefox or Internet Explorer toolbar, I also have the Comcast Toolbar running as it provides me a link to their ant-spy utility.

Private Browsing - Some browsers... Internet Explore, Firefox and Safari, at least, offer "Private Browsing"... USE IT !!!! Although there are "drawbacks" to private browsing as.....

"In a Private Browsing session, [the browser] won't keep any browser history, search history, download history, web form history, cookies, or temporary internet files. "

..the saved bandwidth will make a dramatic difference in performance... if you REALLY need to search your history to find a page you visited, my suggestion is to "bookmark" it next time. Not to mention this way of browsing is safer.

History, Cookies, Temporary Internet Files - DUMP, DUMP, DUMP !!! Even when I do on occasion browse in a non-private mode, I have my browser set to delete all of the above when I close it. All these things do is waste bandwidth... and cookies and Temp Files are actually saved on your hard drive.... GRRRRRR.

Suspend the Interactivity of Websites - I've never actually done this and as a blogger... I'll probably get shot !!! (forgive me fellow bloggers) BUT.... some browsers offer the option to disable audio, video, ads etc from loading on websites. Obviously this is a way to greatly reduce the bandwidth so the pages load faster... but it's also a way to miss out on a lot of great content...

TCP (Internet) Optimization - CRITICAL !!!!!!!!!!! Just as optimizing your system has the most profound impact on the performance of your computer, optimizing your web browser(s) has the greatest POSITIVE impact on your internet experience. This is something too few people realize... When you install a browser, it's default settings are optimized for a dial-up connection speed. I don't know about you but I haven't used dial-up in ages - if you ARE still on dial-up, ignore this. There are definite tweaks that can/should be done to OPTIMIZE your browsers for your particular connection.

Although they can be done manually, I take the easy way out. Many of the Windows Optimizer Utilities described yesterday incorporate an Internet Optimizer integrated into their suite... DONE !!!

If you don't have one of those suites YET... then there are also utilities that can be found on the web. Comcast, for example, offers a TCP Optimizer that appears to be free to anyone as I didn't have to sign into my account to access the download. It can be found here at but you MUST be using Internet Explorer in order to download it.

However, the "standard" TCP Optimizers appear to only be compatible with Internet Explorer and IE-based browsers. BUT, have no fear Firefox users !!!!! I found one for you (and me) too called SpeedyFox. You can download it here. It's a very simple download and a 1-click optimization process... and I gained 15% more speed immediately after doing so. And have no worries, I scanned the file before opening it, so it's clean.

I was going to continue but frankly I'm tired... and this may be a lot for some to absorb. So I'll save the rest for tomorrow, where I will discuss specifics about some different browsers that I tested and my personal conclusions. I hope this helps and if I think of anything else I'll be sure to post it.

Before leaving I will share with you my speed tests performed at speakeasy, before and after cleaning my machine and optimizing Internet Explorer..... you be the judge...

Note, my download speed went from 21.6mbps to 30.8mbps.... hmmmmm... I'll take THAT !!!!

Just for the record, I had a tech come check my lines one day... when he ran the tests, he was getting 30mbps, while I was getting around 18. His answer to why his was so much faster was, "Better processor". THAT'S why I did some research. Who's pulling 30 NOW !?!?!?!?

Come Inside...
0 screams

- The "Doctor" is in - lesson 1 - My computer is so slow !!

I'm going to write a different post today... a bit off topic but this is my forum so... some of it may sound simplistic, but I'm writing it that way on purpose for those that are not as inclined as others. But even for a total novice, there are many ways to improve your computer's performance. I will do a more technical one later.

If you're still with me, I'm going to write about some computer maintenance and performance topics. I have always maintained my own computers (with mixed success, HA !!!) but I do have the determination to research issues thoroughly and have been pretty happy with my personal results.... and note that the topic here is PC, I don't own a Mac (never will) and would be able to offer no solutions there.

First a bit on my machine for reference:

Processor - Intel Celeron (not the greatest by Intel) running at 2.4 gigahertz
RAM - 1 gigabyte installed (2 x 512 megabyte); 2 gigabyte maximum
Operating system - Windows XP Pro; service pack 3
Hard Drive(s) - I have 2 (which aren't "raided" - by choice), 1 is 30 gig and I added a 40 gig which I basically use for multimedia applications and downloads to keep them off the drive that contains my operating system.

"MY COMPUTER IS SO SLOW !!!" How many times have I said and heard THAT?? There are many factors that determine how fast your PC performs.

First and foremost is the hardware, most especially the processor and the amount of physical RAM you have. Most of us are bound by the processor that came with our computers, and although upgrading may be an option, it isn't necessarily a feasible one. Today's computers offer dual processor models which obviously can do twice as much simultaneously. Not all of us are lucky enough to be able to afford that option.

Obviously the processor is the "brain", and not all processors work the same way. Although 2 processors may operate at the same speed of say, 3.0 gigahertz, there are other factors that determine how fast and how much information it processes, like front side BUS and cache... but again, we have what we have.

That takes us to the RAM (Random Access Memory)... Ah memory, obviously the more you have the better. As programs become more sophisticated, the amount of resources needed to run them properly (and simultaneously) becomes greater - increasing the burden on the processor and the memory. As a point of reference, I believe Windows XP requires 256 megabytes of RAM to operate - so if that's all you have, don't even try to run anything else.

You can tell what your computer has by clicking "Start".... then right clicking "My Computer".... then clicking on "properties" (if your "My Computer" is on your desktop, right click on it there)- there are other ways to get here... That will bring up the "System Properties" window.... which hopefully you've all seen before as there are several tabs that include information and utilities about your system.

.... which shows you your processor, RAM and operating system.

RAM is relatively inexpensive these days - at least for older machines (like mine). And if you're running Windows XP, the minimum you should have is 512 megabytes - more if you're running Vista... and probably even more for Windows 7. But before you go out and buy a "bunch" of memory, be sure you understand what your mainboard is capable of supporting, or else it won't read it at all - leaving you helpless.

Although increasing your amount of "Virtual Memory" will help, THAT allocates a portion of your hard drive to be used as "RAM" - virtual memory helps but it also requires use of your processor, leaving less of it's resources available to work for you... there is nothing better than good old fashioned PHYSICAL RAM.

Now, should you not be capable of upgrading your processor and/or RAM, all is not lost. There are several things you could and should do to help the performance and stability of your computer in general... True that there are tweaks in "System Properties" app that can be applied, but the defaults are set to optimize performance - plus those require some level of technical ability and I am technically challenged !!! - although I did increase my Virtual Memory setting... Instead I will explain some extremely simple "fixes" that should prove valuable.

Minimize the number of items on your desktop - This may sound odd (dumb) and I am the worst offender when it comes to a cluttered desktop - call it laziness. However, the more items (icons) that you have on your desktop, the more system resources wasted. If you feel the need to keep a large number of files on your desktop so they are more easily accessible, you should, at the very least, group them in categories and create folders for the categories to store them in. It may take and extra "click-click" to access them but will help eliminate wasting system resources. Ever wonder why Microsoft included the "Unused Desktop Items" utility with "XP" ?

Do NOT install custom desktop themes, wallpapers screen-savers or backgrounds - True they may be "pretty" or "cool" but... Aside from the risks involved in downloading a program from an unknown source, many of these themes (especially animated ones) require more system resources than you should be allocating to making your desktop look pretty.

Minimize the Number of Start-up Programs - Whether you know it (or like it) or not, every time you start your computer, dozens of processes and programs automatically launch and run "in the background". Many of these are not necessary for the operation of your computer but cause your machine to start slower and use resources unnecessarily. Task Manager (ctrl/alt/del) will show you a list of processes that are currently running and allow you to end non-system processes manually. However, if you determine that many of the processes that launch automatically aren't necessary, then you should stop them from doing so. To do this, click "Start"..., then "Run"... in the search box that pops up type "msconfig" and hit "Enter"... that will bring up this utility....

Some third party utility programs offer this also, but I'll get into that more later. As you can see, there are a few default start-up profiles, most likely yours is set on "Normal Startup" - mine is set to "Selective Startup" as I have stopped several processes from launching on startup. "SYSTEM.INI", "WIN.INI" AND "BOOT.INI" are vital to system operation and not knowing enough, I have left them at there default settings. The "Services" tab will show all the processes that are currently running and will allow you to stop them from doing so (to free up resources). The "Startup" tab shows you all the processes that start running when you start your computer. THIS is where you can stop processes to save resources and help your machine boot faster.

Uninstall all unwanted or unneeded programs - Leaving unnecessary programs on your hard drive only wastes system resources by either taking up valuable space on your hard drive OR by your system including them in it's list of start-up processes and having them startup and run automatically.

Clean (and Defragment) your machine !!! - Along with uninstalling unnecessary programs it is important to clean your machine REGULARLY (and especially AFTER uninstalling something) in order to keep it performing well... uninstalling and deleting files will leave file fragments and "gaps" on your hard drive, which will definitely slow your machine down - trying to read a fragment or empty space confuses your processor. Too often I ask someone when the last time they cleaned their hard drive was only to be answered by silence.

Running "Disk Cleanup" will eliminate fragments, temporary files and other "dead" files that just take up space and slow your machine down. Again, third party utility programs offer different versions - and different programs are written differently and "see" junk files differently, SO, I often run 3 different cleanup programs in succession. The "default" that comes with Windows can be accessed by clicking "Start"... "All Programs"... "Accessories"... "System Tools"... "Disk Cleanup"...

DEFRAG !!! As files and programs are written to your hard drive and removed, PC's are NOT built to automatically utilize hard drive space effectively. In other words, when you delete a file or remove a program, that space on your hard drive remains empty (fragmented). Even when you create new files, they will NOT fill in the empty spaces. Obviously, the more files you delete, the more fragments your hard drive will have. It is critical to remove these gaps in your hard drive as empty space is the kiss of death for a processor - it takes MUCH more time for it to search a black hole for a file...

As with "cleanup" there are third party applications here but the Windows defrag utility is in the same folder as "Cleanup"... "Start"... "All Programs"... "Accessories"... "System Tools"... "Disk Defragmenter"... although, I don't care for it because it takes forever.

It is imperative for the performance of your computer to run these utilities on a regular basis - at least once a week... and ALWAYS after uninstalling a program or deleting a great number of files. I actually ALSO have my defrag set to run every night at 3 am, just to keep my hard drive optimized.

Anti-malware (spyware, adware) - ANOTHER critical utility for all PC owners. I'm sure everyone has some anti-virus utility to protect against viruses- I have the McAfee suite through Comcast, which, by the way, has it's own cleanup program integrated into it (one of the 3 I use). BUT, it is also crucial to have an anti-malware (anti-malicious software) program running too, IF it isn't integrated with your anti-virus utility - hell, even if it is (As mine is with McAfee), the more the merrier !!!

You can thank the "wonderful" computer gurus of the world for developing and incorporating malware into programs and/or websites that when downloaded to your machine can (and WILL) wreak havoc.

Although spyware and adware won't destroy your computer like a virus, certainly spyware can destroy your life, allowing a portal with which personal information on your computer can be accessed. Adware (ASSware) is more just a pain in the butt, causing ads to pop up at random related to whatever website or program infected you... been there done THAT.

I currently have 2 utilities installed dedicated to preventing malware. One is also supplied by Comcast and is distributed by CA (Computer Associates). Feeling the need to again triple up here, I also have Windows Defender which is a totally free program, although I'm sure there are others - the point being... BE SURE YOU HAVE ONE !!!

My preference is Defender over the CA version and I have it running continuously in the background (seems to take less resources over CA), although I do have the CA anti-spy program run nightly at 2 am.. just to be sure. Along with the anti-malware utility, Defender also integrates a "Software Explorer" which is a more user friendly way of controlling currently running and/or startup processes as described above. It also includes a software removal tool. And it notifies you if a program is trying to make a change to your system, giving you the opportunity to not allow the change.

Ok, "I've done EVERYTHING above but my PC is still too slow"....

Windows optimizer program - All THAT being said, the most critical utility to have for maintaining PC performance is one of the many optimizer programs available. I haven't seen a free one (although, you CAN download a free trial) but $40 or $50 is well worth the investment. Certainly there are the means described above to help computer performance, but cleaning your hard drive simply isn't enough.... it's all about the registry !!! Explaining the function of the registry is a post in itself, but if you don't clean out and defrag your registry REGULARLY, all the efforts above could go for not. If you don't have at least registry optimizing utility.... GET ONE !!!! And adding and removing programs will fragment your registry, so not a bad idea to incorporate a registry scan into your uninstall process.

Again, there are many optimizing suites out there. Also again, different programs offer different levels of functionality but the do integrate many of the tweaks above and and perform them automatically. I currently use a suite by Uniblue, which includes a disk cleanup utility, a disk defrag utility, a registry cleanup/defrag utility, and a driver updating tool as it is also important that you are running your hardware using the most current drivers.

Within each of the modules there are also many options for optimizing specific applications like Windows and WEB BROWSERS, as well as optimizing your processor, physical memory, startup programs etc.

BUT, the most important part of the suite is the registry optimizer...

and if you don't believe me, download a trial version of one and try it. Although the trial versions are set to only fix a certain amount or percentage of the errors it finds, you'll be amazed at the resulting performance of your computer.

That's it for now. I stress once again... the REGISTRY... and seriously, if you think I'm kidding I tested my internet speed before and after making doing a scan and making a few tweaks... and gained up to 25% !!! But THAT will be lesson 2. I hope this helps.... if you have questions or would like me to research something for ya, just SCREAM at me.....

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