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April Fools Day

But this is totally serious…

Today, California’s 1% increase in sales tax goes into effect; the term of the increase won’t be known until after a ballet measure is voted on.

California, like many states, has been spending far more than it’s been taking in — and this is yet another misguided attempt by the Governor and assembly to make up the difference.

In a down economy, let’s raise the sales tax — I’m sure that will jump start retail sales and put the economy on the fast track to recovery… GET A CLUE, it’s not like most people are spending money on luxury items right now, they’re just trying to make ends meet; and those with means to buy expensive items will just purchase them out of state.

It looks to me like the best view of California is in the rear view mirror leaving!

Originally posted 2009-04-01 01:00:49.

Microsoft WebsiteSpark

A program that offers visibility, support and software for professional Web Developers and Designers

If you company has ten or fewer employees, has been around for less than three years, and you provide services, support, and hosting to businesses that develop web sites and applications you might qualify for deeply discounted Windows Web Server and SQL Server Web Edition (like free or nearly free).

You can get more information at the Microsoft® WebsiteSpark page…

Microsoft® WebsiteSpark

Originally posted 2009-11-16 01:00:09.

U.S. spying harms cloud computing, Internet freedom: Wikipedia founder

By Nerijus Adomaitis

OSLO | Thu Nov 7, 2013 12:36pm EST

(Reuters) – The United States’ alleged large-scale surveillance of global communications networks will badly harm the U.S. cloud computing industry, the founder of Wikipedia said on Thursday.

Jimmy Wales, who launched the online encyclopaedia service 12 year ago, said the U.S. eavesdropping, revealed by leaks from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, also poses a threat to Internet freedoms by giving an excuse to oppressive regimes to introduce more censorship.

“It’s going to have a big impact on the cloud computing industry as people are afraid to put data in the U.S., but it’s also devastating for the kind of work I do,” Wales told reporters after speaking at an IT event in Norway.

“If you are BMW, a car maker in Germany,… you probably are not that comfortable putting your data into the U.S. any more,” said the former futures trader who is still a key player at Wikipedia, one of the most popular websites in the world.

Cloud computing is an umbrella term for activities ranging from web-based email to businesssoftware that is run remotely via the Internet instead of on-site. It is being adopted by big companies and governments globally to cut costs and give flexibility to their IT departments.

Snowden’s leaks revealing the reach and methods of U.S. surveillance have prompted angry calls for explanations from France to Brazil. Germany has been particularly annoyed by revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) monitored Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“EMBARRASSING”

Wales said the revelations made it more difficult to convince oppressive regimes to respect basic freedoms and privacy as Wikipedia seeks to limit censorship of its content.

“They (spying revelations) give the Chinese every excuse to be as bad as they have been… It’s really embarrassing,” he said. “It’s an enormous problem, an enormous danger.”

China and countries in the Middle East have been most active in filtering Wikipedia content to restrict access to certain information, Wales said.

He said Wikipedia had no plan to introduce advertising.

“If we need to do that to survive, we will do what’s needed to survive, but we are not discussing that,” he said. “Some places have to remain free of commerce… Wikipedia is a temple for the mind,” Wales said.

Wikipedia has been financed through a non-profit foundation Wikimedia, which reported revenues of $38.4 million for the fiscal year 2011-2012, including $35.1 million in donations and contributions.

(Editing by Gareth Jones)

On Reuters.com

Originally posted 2013-11-07 14:00:05.

Bed Bath and Beyond

I can tell you what the Beyond is in their name… that would be their service.

First, I’m not much for “assemble yourself” furniture… I prefer well made, solid wood furniture (which generally means I buy turn of the century — that would be circa 1900; and have no problem paying for it).

Unfortunately I wanted a piece of furniture for my bath room, and I wasn’t having much luck finding an older piece (I guess bath room furniture wasn’t very popular 100 years ago), so I looked around a found a couple places that had at least solid wood frame furniture that seemed relatively well made.

The local Bed Bath and Beyond didn’t stock the piece I was interested in (they had a similar piece, and another piece in that collection — but the piece I wanted was being discontinued — figures), so I had to order it (the upside was that it was about $50 less).

I placed the order, got a confirmation, and a shipment notice the next business day (all of which I expect from any decent e-Tailer).

The piece arrived, and the UPS person delivered it and for the most part the box looked like it was in pretty good shape, two of the corners were a little dented — but no reason to assume that item was damaged.

As I started to assemble the piece, I noted that one side piece had a very small chip, but I felt that it probably wouldn’t be noticed, and it would be easy to touch up.  Then I got to the top — damn — the back right corner must have been right where one of the packages corners took a hit, it was slightly deformed, and with light shining on it it was going to stick out like a sore thumb.

I wasn’t sure what to do, but I figured I’d call customer service before I continued the assembly.

I called, and the hold time was much longer than I would have liked — and the annoying message that I could leave a message (over and over) was beginning to get on my nerves just as an agent picked up my call.

She was polite, and immediately made what sounded to be a genuine apology for the inconvenience.  She would have been happy to have the warehouse ship me both parts, but as I told here I’d probably cause more damage replacing the side piece, and really only the top was a “must replace”.

I haven’t seen the confirmation of shipment of the replacement parts yet — but I have every confidence that there won’t be any issues…

Now, we’ll see if the local store is as easy to deal with doing a return of another item.

Originally posted 2009-08-06 01:00:42.

May Day

May Day, or the 1st of May (not the call for help) is celebrated to mark several different events in many parts of the world.

In much of the world it is synonymous with International Workers’ Day or Labour Day, but the oldest references to May Day is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night.

While the basis of the celebration might be pagan, the Christians usurped it (as they did with many others)  to be more in keeping with the teachings of their church.

Whether your interest is in International Workers’ Day or Labour Day or the Celtic festival of Beltane or the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night or pagan/neopagan festivals such as Samhain…

Take a moment and read up on the many facets of May Day… and take a moment to celebrate the day in any and every way you choose!

But for me, May Day marks the end of Winter and the start of Spring.

May Day on Wikipedia


May Day

Originally posted 2010-05-01 02:00:53.

Father’s Day

Father’s Day grew from a celebration of Mother’s Days.

In 1909 Sonora Smart Dodd (of Spokane Washington) felt that a day should be set aside for honoring fathers (her father was a Civil War veteran and had raised six children after the passing of his wife).

While a bill had been introduced in the US Congress as early as 1913, and President Woodrow Wilson spoke in Spokane at a local celebration in 1916, and President Calvin Coolidge encouraged a celebration in 1924 it would not be until President Richard Nixon issued a proclamation in 1972 declaring the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day that it became a national day of honoring not only our paternal father’s, but our fore father’s as well.

Originally posted 2010-06-20 02:00:59.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a real problem, and credit bureaus make it all to easy for individuals who get a little bit of information about you to get your entire life’s story — and use your name (and credit) to make their life better and your life a living hell.

While there’s been improvements in legal recourse for identity theft, your best bet is to guard against it.

To make yourself a harder target, try some simple things like:

  • Elect on-line delivery of banking and credit card statements; utility bills; and anything else you can.  It’s safe, it’s good for the environment, and it reduces the likelihood of mail theft.
  • Use on-line bill payment or pay bills with your credit card; it’s safe, convenient, and it reduces the likelihood of mail theft.  Using your credit card may give you additional rights, and cash back.
  • Destroy paper items that have any personal information on them; cross-cut or confettie shreaders are the best, a fire place, or just mark it over and tear it by hand.
  • Destroy old credit cards, drivers licenses, passports, etc — make sure nothing with personal and confidential information on it goes in the trash.
  • Don’t give out your name or address to any one or on any site or on any phone call unless you know who you’re dealing with and there’s some advantage for you to do so.
  • Remove your name from mailing lists, refuse delivery of mail you didn’t request (that will cost the sender money generally and is more likely to get your name expunged from the list they use).
  • Put a “freeze” on your credit report.  Click here for info
  • Report scammers, spammers, and phishers to law enforcement. Click here for info

 

There are lots of great sites online that are free (free of advertising), and full of information… here’s one of them:

          http://www.consumersunion.org/

Originally posted 2008-11-08 08:00:50.

E pluribus unum

Out of many, one…

It was the de facto motto of the United States until 1956 when the United States Congress pass HJ Resolution 396 adopting “In God We Trust” as the official motto (the same congress that added “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in reaction to the “godless” communists).

E pluribus unum

In God we trust

Great Seal of the United States

Originally posted 2013-12-23 12:00:35.

Walgreen’s

Unfortunately it’s a pattern I’ve seen all too often in the past — the tale tale signs of a merchant that clearly care nothing about you as a customer except what they can extract from your wallet.

I was in Walgreen’s, and I was purchasing a few items and I noticed that they had a $5.00 off on your next purchase with a $20.00 purchase — well, it just so happened that I could make immediate use of that so I got together $20.86 in merchandise and went up to the cash register.

The cashier entered all the promotional codes for my purchase… I swiped my credit card (which was authorized for payment), out came my receipt, an no $5.00 off coupon.

She called the manager on duty (a person I’d conversed with on a number of occasions — who I’ve always found quite competent, quite friendly, and quite helpful).  It took her a few minutes to get to the register; she said that she could void the receipt and do it again, but my feeling was that the cashier had done nothing wrong — it just didn’t work.

But wait!

Walgreen’s apparently knew there were cases where this wouldn’t work — they had provided stores with a form that customers could fill out and mail in.  It did take her quite some time to locate the form, in all I stood at the check out about 40 minutes (40 minutes of my life I’ll never get back, nor will I be compensated for in any way).

So, corporate expects customers to spend their time and money (no envelope or stamp was provided by Walgreen’s) to correct their problem.  The advertisement clearly stated that the $5.00 off coupon was instant, not a mail-in rebate; and that it could be used on the next trip to Walgreen’s (like immediately).

I can’t fault any of the store employees — they tried to do what they could; but I do fault the corporate policy.

I came home, I wrote a lengthy message to Walgreen’s customer service telling them what had happened, and what I thought of their policies, and that they’d made me a happy and loyal CVS customer (there’s a 24-hour CVS right across the street from the 24-hour Walgreen’s near my home).  And when I sent it — I immediately deleted the email address I’d provided Walgreen’s for their sales circulars and online shopping (I’ll have no need for those) and directed that they were to remove all my information from their systems.

I have no need to invest my time and my money correcting the failing of a company that doesn’t offer in any way to compensate me for their mistakes, and I encourage everyone to do what I always do — use your wallet to show you just won’t accept this type of behavior.

If a company makes a mistake — the company should fix it without any intervention of the customer that’s effected.  And my personal feeling is there should be a federal law that requires companies to pay individuals for their time and expense they invest in fixing problems that they in no way contributed to (whey are doing work for the company) – after all, the way it stands now, companies have no reason to get it right, since it always seems to be you the consumer that get’s the short end.

I’m just saying “No” to Walgreen’s — just like all the other companies who’ve shown they don’t deserve my business.

Originally posted 2012-05-28 02:00:03.

NO INCUMBENTS!

INCUMBENTS

Originally posted 2010-04-01 01:30:51.