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iOS 4

With the announcement of iPhone 4 Apple announced the a new version of their phone / media player operating systems — iOS 4; which will ship on the iPhone 4 and be offered as a free upgrade to iPhone 3G and 3GS users as well as second and third generation iPod touch users.

I’m sure everyone will be quick to tether their Apple device to iTune and apply the upgrades…

Originally posted 2010-06-10 10:50:15.

Tea Party

The Tea Party has been holding a number of rallies to make people aware of how government is misusing their tax dollars…

Damn straight!

Remember, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not in the budget; the wars were entered into based on lies told to the American people (and the House and Senate — which you would have hoped would have been a little more savvy than the average taxpayer and ask for proof).

So let’s start by getting that nearly trillion dollars that was misappropriated ack; from the defense budget (after all — gotta cut to pay, right Tea Party — and best to cut from the same programs that used misappropriated money than a program that didn’t).

Am I serious… well, I’m as serious as the Tea Party.

If you want to look for places to get money to help this country make ends meet; here’s the short list.

  • Wall Street
  • Banking
  • Oil & Gas Industry
  • Defense

Seems like these are the areas which have taken far more than they have put in for the past several years…


And honestly, no, this isn’t the way I’d try and balance the budget.

I’d look at fixing what’s broken…

Health Care — the Obama health care plan is a waste; let’s move to a single payer system (much like our neighbors to the North) that _all_ US citizens are a part of; and that government employees and elected officials have no option but to use (and have no special access).  Of course any business or individual could elect to pay for private insurance, but that would be using after tax dollars.  Medicare and medicaid would simply be a part of the national health system; and the only difference would be that very low income individuals would get at least some number of co-pay waivers per year.

Social Security — definitely needs to be looked into, but a program that many Americans over 50 have been expecting to be there when they retire cannot continue to change…  I’m not sure how to fix this, but we probably need to view all the different parts of the Social Security system separately and deal with solutions based on the needs of each.

Defense — definitely needs to be trimmed.  We simply cannot spend 20% of every tax dollar for defense (40% of what the world spends on arms — six times that of China)… and that money doesn’t need to be wasted on weapons programs that aren’t needed (or wanted by most Americans).  Let’s keep it in perspective, military spending is what caused the implosion of the Soviet Union, the US need not continue to escalate the arms race.

Taxes — there’s a simple solution, throw out the old tax code (and the IRS) and institute a simple code.  Something like: no tax on earnings to poverty level,  5% on everything above poverty level to say 2x poverty level; add 5% percent on each 1x poverty level beyond that to a maximum rate of 50%.  That’s it, no other Federal tax (everything comes out of one tax stream).  No American entity pays 50% of their earnings in tax; and very few pay anywhere near that.  If the tax rate is too high, just adjust the single 5% number on each band, and instantly the earnings amount the cap applies to goes up.  Plus, as poverty is eliminated, the tax bracket broadens.

Term Limits — any elected official needs to be bound by the same term limits as the President; no more than two terms in the same office.  And we need to make sure that these officials are paid the US median salary — after all, they should represent the views of an average American, and that they have the exact same safety net as the rest of America (Social Security)… no special retirement plan.  Now I would certainly agree that they could be considered government employees, and count their time in office toward a retirement — the same as the clerks in their offices do.

Education — we definitely need to consider education as a national issue, not a local one.  Standards need to be more consistent and graduates need to be functional in our society (if you don’t think education is closely tied to economics, you’re living in a cave).


None of this is what’s being talked about — the Tea Party is completely politically motivated, and are only interested in imposing their regressive (misguided) Christian ultra-right views on the process; and don’t want to work towards any real solution since they view failure as the way to gain control.

The first step to fixing the problem is change — and I subscribe that change starts by sending the signal that we as Americans just won’t put up with the way in which business has been done too long.

Perhaps the American Spring isn’t far off.

Originally posted 2011-09-26 02:00:49.

Vantec Quality

Before I left San Francisco I purchased six Vantec cases.

Two 5.25″ external USB2.0 cases for Blu-Ray ROM devices; and four 2.5″ external USB2.0 cases to put 500GB hard drives in.

I already had the Blu-Ray ROM drives and set out to put those in the cases right when I got them home from Central Computer, but I quickly found out that neither of the cases had the holes tapped for the bolts that held the case closed (and interesting enough, Vantec doesn’t shipped the cases closed up like most vendors).

It was a nightmare trying to deal with Vantec; they sent me two sets of bolts — they just never really could grasp the fact that the cases weren’t tapped — the screws were probably the right ones.  And even worse I’d already exchanged them once (and the second two cases also weren’t tapped).

Anyway, I gave up on trying to get satisfaction and just used some nylon fasteners that I had that seemed to do the job reasonably well — but of course the large white nylon fasteners sticking out the back of a black case was far from attractive.

The 2.5″ cases I packed away and didn’t need those (I actually had some SATA/USB2.0 cases that I was using at that point — but wasn’t willing to pay the ridiculous price to get more of those).

Last week, though, I ordered a couple 500GB Seagate drives on sale.  They arrived yesterday and I went to put them in the cases… The first package had the screw packet and worked great.  The second package didn’t have any screws and had a defect on the finish on the enclosure.  The third and fourth packages had no screws either.  So out of four drives only one had screws — and the screws are a small metric thread (and fairly long with a small diameter head) that I have nothing like.

I contacted Vantec; already knowing what they’d say… so once I dig up my receipt and send it to them I’m sure the fun will start again; the good news is I know that these cases are tapped (since I have two screws I tested all the cases).

It seems to me that Vantec has some rather severe quality issues; and simple things like insuring screws in the package that fit would be resolved by closing the case before packing and shipping it… obviously they want to save a nickle or so — and cost their customers hundreds of dollars in wasted time.

So I’ll not be purchasing any products from Vantec mail order for sure; and if I want to chance it, I’ll open up and inspect the item BEFORE leaving the store.

Originally posted 2010-01-30 01:00:58.

A break from posting

I have too many commitments at the moment to make a post every day (my quotations will continue each day — and I hope you enjoy them); and I just don’t have the time to schedule out posts…

I will take this opportunity to wish each and everyone a safe, sane, and happy end of the year, and I’ll try and post relevant articles as I find the time.

Originally posted 2010-12-01 02:00:57.

Illegal Immigrants

Illegal Immigrants
By Arend Van Dam, 13-May-2011

Originally posted 2011-05-15 02:00:11.

Gizmo

Years ago I found a free program named Daemon Tools… it was a very simple, very functional application for mounting CD/DVD images (ISO, BIN, NRG, etc)… then it was “improved” and now it’s a POS (that would be short for Piece of Shit)…

I’ve tried several other programs, and none of them seemed to work all that well, until I stumbled on a product that not only mounted CD and DVD images, but also VHD (that would be Virtual Hard Disks, the container that Microsoft Virtual PC, Virtual Server, and Hyper-V use)…

The product is called Gizmo; and it has a lot of modules that do other things (you can turn them off if you won’t want them — some of them you might like); but I was floored by how easy it was to use, and how well it worked!.

Now, there is a “free” version and a “for-sale” version.  I don’t really know the differences between them (you can read all about it for yourself).  The free version does everything I want (and more)… and thus far I’m quite happy with it.

Also, one installer supports Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, 2008, 7 — 32 and 64 bit!

You can get more information from the vendor’s web site:

http://arainia.com/software/gizmo/

Originally posted 2009-09-25 01:00:24.

Google TV — Post Notes

Just a follow up to my Google TV post… the Logitech Revue Google TV box’s price has been slashed to $99, and it will be updated to run Honeycomb and support a host of new apps.

While the current version isn’t compelling, the new price just might be — at least when Honeycomb actually ships on the Revue and you can do something useful (like run Google Music perhaps).

 

Google TV

Originally posted 2011-08-12 02:00:00.

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.

Lowes “We Care” LOL

I purchased an inexpensive ceiling fan from Lowe’s in July — I needed something small, something that would be close to the ceiling, and since I didn’t really care for anything I had to choose from, something that wasn’t expensive.

I ended up with a:

Harbor Breeze,  30″ White Breezeway Ceiling Fan
Item #: 20006 / Model: 0020006

For about $30…

I found the fan a little noisy from the start, and originally it wobbled quite a bit on the ceiling (that I took care of by taking it down, and putting it back up using some felt spacers to help cushion it against the outlet box).

Last week, it finally got cool enough here that I didn’t need the fan circulating air in my office… so I turned it off.  Yesterday it got warm enough that I felt like it was a good idea to turn it on to circulate the air to keep the office as cool as possible.

To my surprise, a ceiling fan less than three months old appears to have bearing that are going bad (certainly I don’t class this fan as inexpensive any longer, I classify it as CHEAP).

I figured, I’d contact Lowe’s and find out what the warranty was and how painful it would be to get service… so I clicked on their web site, send off a message to customer service (with all the information on the fan, model, etc) and went about my business doing other thing.

Submitting online requests are great; they very low impact on a person’s time — you send in the request when you have time, you deal with the response when you have time — it’s the next best thing to not needing to contact support… that is when you actually get customer service.

I got a message fairly early this morning — they needed the item and / or model number in order to provide me with the information I ask for.  Hmm — can you say careless, incompetent, and not really interested in providing service — all that information was in the web request AND embarrassingly enough, the entire web request (including that information was sent to me).

I replied that I had provided the information already… and if there was something more they needed they’d have to be more specific.

The next note came back that they couldn’t access the original web request; yes — you got it, all the previous information was once again copied onto the request.

Enough was enough… I picked up the phone and called.

The woman who I spoke with (after going through the obligatory maze of voice prompts and responses — a good sign a company doesn’t really care about it customers) seemed concerned, but she immediately needed to put me on hold (wasting more of my time) to research the problem.  Then all she had to come back with was that the local store would call me.  When I told her I’d like to speak with her manager, she immediately apologized and told me that the local store would be calling to help me (yeah — like I was deaf, dumb, or stupid — she obviously had been dealing with Lowe’s customer service people too much).

I was a little “rough” on her… and got a manager.

The manager was equally ineffective — but in fact confirmed that all the information that would have been needed to resolve this had been entered into the original message; but since it had been turned over to the store they would need to handle it.

As I pointed out to him; I did an online request for information because I didn’t want to spend the time chasing this down on phone calls — had I wanted to make a phone call originally I would have been able to, and that all they had really done was to waste my time and encourage me to shop elsewhere.

I received a voice mail this afternoon from one of the local Lowe’s store — apparently they’ve pulled a replacement for me and it’s ready for me to pick it up at my convenience.

I’ve got news for Lowe’s — it will NEVER be at my convenience, and I certainly don’t intend on wasting more of my time to take down this POS fan, drive to Lowe’s, pickup another POS fan, and install the same POS fan — I’d much rather invest a little more of my money and less of my time in acquiring and replacing this fan with something that provides better service than either this POS fan or Lowe’s!

Originally posted 2009-10-23 01:00:11.

Netbook

I purchased a MSI Wind U100 a couple weeks ago for an “on-the-go” computer.

At $299 plus $99 for a 2.5″ SATA2 500GB Seagate hard drive and $15 for an additional 1GB of DDR2 it’s a fairly economical solution to use to browse the web on the go, send/receive email, mapping, GPS, music and videos, contacts, date book, etc.

I looked at all the options, but I choose this one because I wanted 2GB of memory (most of them come with only 512MB built in so you can only have 1.5GB total and a couple only allow 1GB total).

The Atom N270 processor is by no means a top performer, but it does a fairly good job and mine is running Vista Home Premium with no issues at all (it ships with Windows XP Home).

The only thing I dislike about it is the fact that the keyboard is so small; but if you want a small notebook you’re going to have to live with a small keyboard!

No one computer is right for everyone, so you’ll have to decide what’s right for your particular needs, what your intended use is, and your budget.  There are actually models of netbooks you can purchase with an AT&T wireless modem installed for $99 (of course you have a two year contract your saddled with).

Bigger than a PDA, but far more flexible!

Originally posted 2008-12-27 12:00:21.