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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.

Windows 7 – Virtualization

So you’ve upgraded to Windows 7 and now your considering the options for running virtual machines…

If you have a PC that’s capable of hardware assisted virtualization (I-VT or AMD-V) and you’re running Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate the decision is fairly easy; use the virtualization technology from Microsoft that provides you with Virtual XP mode (as well as generalized virtualization).

However, if you don’t have a PC capable of hardware virtualization or you didn’t spring for the more expensive version of Windows you have some good (free) choices.

While Microsoft doesn’t officially support Virtual PC 2007 SP1 on Windows 7, since it was designed to run under Vista it will work.  The real downside is that you have fairly old virtualization technology emulating an antiquated hardware.

You could consider buying VMware or Parallels, but why spend money when there’s a better free alternative for personal use…

That would be – VirtualBox (yes, I’ve harped on VirtualBox for the Mac before, and now it’s time to harp on VirtualBox on the PC).

VirtualBox is a project sponsored by Sun Microsystems.  They’ve actually been working on virtualization technology for a very long time, and their virtualization technology is top notch. 

VirtualBox will run on several different operating system, you can even share the virtual machine files between operating systems if you like.  But one of the really nice things about VirtualBox is that it will support machines with or without hardware assisted virtualization and it emulates very modern hardware (which makes the paravirtualization of devices much more efficient).

Unless you have specific requirements that force you to choose other virtualization software, I would recommend you take a good look at VirtualBox.

VirtualBox

Originally posted 2009-11-14 01:00:43.

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.

Disposable EMail Addresses

DEAs = Disposable EMail Addresses; they’re useful for you to provide to a vendor so that you can track the use of the email address and delete it if you find it’s abused or chose to no long do business with whom you gave it to.

Just like Virtual Credit Card numbers give you control over payment to merchants, Disposable EMail Addresses give you control over your inbox.

It’s a great way to fight SPAM and identify SPAMmers.

If you don’t happen to own your own domain were you can create “forwarding” addresses, there are a number of web sites that provide you with the ability to create and manage DEAs — just do an internet search.  If you can’t find one, let me know and I’ll give you some pointers.

Originally posted 2008-12-19 12:00:36.

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.

Micro Center 2GB SD Cards

I’ve found that the 2GB SD Cards that Micro Center gives away (with coupon) are worth what you pay for them…

They are SLOW, and my camera complains about them (it doesn’t complain about the PQI, Kingston, or Patriot card I have which are all FAST).

Just a word of caution, consider what you’re going to use the cards for before you buy the really cheap ones (of course if you get them free, by all means).  The good cards are only slightly more expensive than the crappy ones (yeah, we’re probably talking about 15% but that’s $1.00 for a 2GB card).

Originally posted 2008-07-18 12:29:04.