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Liberal? Conservative?

I’m really neither or perhaps both…

I’m extremely conservative when it come to fiscal matters; far more conservative apparently than anyone who get’s elected to government office.  My belief is a country must run it’s finances like an individual has to — you have to pay for what you get, which means you have to make hard choices.

I’m extremely liberal when it comes to social matters; I understand, and appreciate the cost to society of not providing assistance and programs which break the cycle of poverty.  I believe that it’s the responsibility of those who have benefited from our society to help those who have failed to achieve (not quite a Socialist view, but certainly the philosophy of from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs is a guideline for growth).

The problems in this country are deep routed, and there really are no quick fixes; however, there are certainly things that need to be done sooner than later to put us on the road to fixing the ills of this country.

The first, and most important thing, is to get rid of career politicians who serve no one’s interest except their own.

The second is to make long term investments in infrastructure — and I’m not talking about just roads, dams, etc… I’m talking about education, social services… everything that makes life sustainable.

The third it to get rid of special interest influence.

The list of things to do is virtually endless; but if we can achieve those on the top of the list in the next decade I believe we’ll start seeing major improvement… but we have to figure out why we’re where we are, and what has gone wrong — because it will go wrong again.

My BLOG posts are all over the map — but they represent me and my life… remember, anyone worth knowing is complicated.

Originally posted 2010-11-04 02:00:20.

Windows 6 Service Pack 2

It’s out… it’s been in BETA for quite some time.

Just so you’re clear; Windows 6 covers all the Vista family and the Server 2008 family, and there’s an installer for 32-bit and one for 64-bit; there’s also a DVD image that you can install either from.

You can find a number of articles on the web telling you all about what was originally supposed to be in SP2, and what ended up in it… other than Bluetooth 2.1 and Blu-Ray support there isn’t that much that caught my eye as for “features”.

The big thing you will notice is that this makes Vista noticably faster… and includes the compcln.exe tool that allows you to remove previous component versions (saving disk space — of course once you do so, you cannot go back to previous versions… but if your machine is stable after SP2 you probably wouldn’t want to).

You must have SP1 installed first (Server 2008 comes with SP1 “pre-installed”).

You can access the Microsoft TechNet article via the link below and download the file(s) you desire.  At the moment SP2 is not included in automatic updates, but it will likely be pushed out soon.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/dd262148.aspx

Originally posted 2009-06-07 11:00:22.

AB 32

California’s landmark climate control law, AB 32, is under fire from the conservative right and a number of out-of-state corporations…

Proposition 23 would strip away the law and the protections it affords to the environment.

Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown is a strong supporter of AB 32 and the environment, and opposed to Proposition 23.

Republican hopeful Meg Whitman; however, does not support Proposition 23, but has stated that she would suspend AB 32 because it was a job killer.

The California Air Resourced Board predicts that the law would create 10,000 new jobs — clean jobs.

The split seems firmly along party lines — 66% of Republicans think the provisions of the law should be suspended until the economy improves; 63% of Democrats and 55% of Independents feel the provisions of AB 32 must take effect immediately.

Originally posted 2010-09-23 02:00:30.

Does Canada’s Health Care System Need Fixing?

This is from an article on by Sarah Varney (KQED – San Francisco, CA, US – Public Media for Northern California) re-published on NPR.

Amid the debate about reforming heath care in the United States, it’s tough to turn on your television these days without hearing a political ad condemning the Canadian health care system.

One such ad from Americans for Prosperity features a woman talking of her experience with getting treatment for cancer.

“I survived a brain tumor, but if I’d relied on my government for health care, I’d be dead. I am a Canadian citizen. As my brain tumor got worse, my government health care system told me I had to wait six month to see a specialist,” the woman says.

The ads are provocative, but just how accurately do they portray Canada’s system?

At a small doctor’s office in the gritty working-class neighborhood of East Vancouver, Dr. Larry Barzelai meets with John and Bessie Riley, who have been his patients for more than 20 years.

John Riley was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. Contrary to the woman in the TV ad, he says his experience getting in to see specialists has been “nothing but good” so far. “Everything’s gone bang, bang. I’ve had no waiting times for anything,” he says, adding that his only out-of-pocket expense has been the cost of getting to the doctor’s office.

Socialized Insurance, Not Socialized Medicine

Canada has a universal health care system that’s paid for through income taxes and sales tax. All Canadians are covered, and they can see any doctor they want anywhere in the country with no copays or deductibles. Some things aren’t covered: optometry, dentistry and outpatient prescription drugs. Many Canadians have private insurance to cover those services, though some struggle to pay for them out of pocket.

U.S. critics of Canadian health care like to call it socialized medicine, but it’s more like socialized insurance — meaning the risk is pooled together. And while the individual provinces and territories set their overall health budgets and administer the health plans, the delivery of medical care is private. Doctors run their own businesses and then bill the government.

Barzelai says physicians in Canada earn a good living and aren’t faced with the same administrative hassles that American doctors gripe about. “Medical costs here are half of what medical costs in the States are,” he says. “At the same time, our infant mortality is lower, our life expectancy is longer, our rates of obesity are a lot less. So there’s got to be some positive aspects of living in Canada and with the Canadian medical system.”

The Commonwealth Fund, a respected and nonpartisan U.S. health research organization, looked at deaths that could have been prevented with access to quality medical care in the leading 19 industrialized countries. In the latest survey, the United States ranked last and Canada came in sixth.

Professor Bob Evans, one of the grandfathers of the health economics field, has been studying the Canadian and U.S. systems since they were founded around the same time in the mid-1960s. He says that what many Americans hear about Canada — rationed care, long wait lists and a government bureaucrat who gets in between a patient and doctor — is “absolute nonsense.”

“Are there cases of people who wind up not getting the care they need at appropriate times? Yes, of course there are,” says Evans, who is with the Centre for Health Policy Research at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “This is a huge system and it’s a very complicated one and things do go wrong. But as a general rule, what happens here is that when you need the care, you get it.” But that wasn’t always the case.

‘The Most Frustrating Moments In Our System’

When federal spending on Canadian health care declined during a recession in the 1990s, lines for non-urgent procedures — and some urgent ones — grew. A few years later, Canada’s Supreme Court found that some patients had in fact died as a result of waiting for medical services. Stories of the deaths and of residents traveling to the U.S. for medical care dominated Canadian news coverage.

In response, Canada’s government poured billions of dollars into reducing wait times in the five medical areas deemed most troublesome, including cancer care, cardiac care and joint replacement surgery. And wait times for these services has dropped: Most provinces now report those times on publicly available Web sites. Such data — and public accountability — don’t exist in the U.S.

But that’s not to say there still aren’t frustrations with waiting for medical care in Canada.

Jocelyn Thompkinson is a peppy 29-year-old who was born with a neural tube defect similar to spina bifida. “I haven’t been able to walk since I was 8, and I’ve had lots of surgeries, lots of medical interventions of various types,” she says at BC Children’s Hospital, in a leafy Vancouver neighborhood. “But beyond that, I hold a job, I have a pretty much normal life.”

She credits an army of Canadian doctors and physical therapists for giving her that normal life, though there have been roadblocks. “Of course there were some times when I had to wait for care, and those are always the most frustrating moments in our system,” Thompkinson says. Several years ago, when she was on a long waiting list for a pain clinic in Vancouver, she traveled to Seattle and then Texas to get care. The visits and tests cost her $1,800.

Few Canadians actually go south for medical care, though. Canadian researchers say it’s a bit like getting struck by lighting — it’s extremely rare, but when it happens, everyone talks about it.

Provincial governments do pay for Canadians to receive specialty care in the U.S. in some cases. For example, a shortage of neonatal beds means a small number of women with high-risk pregnancies are sent to U.S. hospitals to deliver their babies.

It doesn’t happen often, though, and public opinion polls continue to show strong support for publicly financed, universal health care in Canada.

NPR.com

Originally posted 2010-03-11 02:00:20.

Happy Birthday

to me…

Originally posted 2011-04-06 02:00:04.

Report Fraud

Each and every time you encounter someone trying to defraud you make sure you report it.

Phishing scams, money scams, premium SMS message, suspicious phone calls, un-authorized phone charges, un-authorized credit card charges, etc — go ahead and visit the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center; a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], the National White Collar Crime Center [NW3C], and the Bureau of Justice Assistance [BJA]) and file a report.

Take action and let the law enforcement community decide what’s a threat and what’s not – but DO NOT remain silent or these problems will continue.

http://www.ic3.gov/

 

NOTE:  If you have an un-authorized charge on any of your bills you will also want to contact your billing company and dispute the charge with them; the IC3 will not do this for you.

Originally posted 2008-10-24 13:00:38.

Domain Registrars and Hosting Companies

All domain registrars and hosting companies aren’t created equally…

If all you need from your domain registrar is just to get a domain, then find the absolute cheapest (and many have discounts for some TLDs from time to time)… but in general you might want DNS services, web redirects, email, etc… or even a full blown hosting plan — so it’s work looking around.

My domains are registered with, and hosted by 1and1.com — do I think they are the best… NO, but I do think they have a very good price for the services I happen to want, and their system works reasonably well.

But before you make a decision, you really need to decide what services you want, and look to see who offers what.

Ask your friends, a personal recommendation is one of the best ways to narrow the field.  Remember, though, not everyone wants the same services, so make sure you ask what services your friends get from the various companies, any problems they’ve had, anything they particularly like or dislike — and ask if they chose it because of a special promotional price.  The best deal today, won’t always be the best deal tomorrow.

Do you need your hosting company and your registrar to be the same?  Well, no you don’t…  Often though you’re going to find you get a better price overall by having the be the same.  That said, if you’re looking to move your domains from one place to another you might want to “try before you buy”.

I’d say the only requirement that a company has to have for you to consider them is a “money back guarantee”.  You can look over the information, play with their dummy control panel, etc all you want… but you won’t know if you like it (and it does the job) until you actually try to use it.

Most reputable hosting companies provide a 30-day money back guarantee.  I certainly ended up taking advantage of that at an “unlimited” hosting company.  And that’s something you just need to be sure they have.

The other thing to look at is what the contract term is for a reasonable price.  Some companies want you to sign up for three or four years to get a good price.  My advice is go with someone who gives you a competative price for thee to six months, and maybe even is offering a promotional package that extends the time you pay for.  Never sign up for more than a year unless it’s some incredible price, and then consider whether the company is likely going to be in business for the duration of the contract — and make sure they have a money back guarantee — and pay by credit card.

What if you only need domain registration?

Well, look at the prices charged, and any extra fees imposed.  You can check what the ICANN fee is currently, and contrast that with what the company is providing.  Odds are, though, you do want more than just a domain registration unless you do your own DNS, eMail, web, and blogs…

Here’s a partial list of feature you will probably want to consider:

Price

  • DNS (types of records you can create — additional domains, secondary domains)
  • email (POP, IMAP, SMTP — SSL/TLS — how many domains, how many accounts, forwarders, responders)
  • web (PHP, ASP, PERL, dot NET — how much storage, how much transfer, additional domains, secondary domains)
  • web applications (blogs, web page editors, etc)
  • database (MySQL, Postgress, Oracle, SQL Server — how large, how many)
  • access (FTP, Telnet, SSH, SFTP, SCP, WebDAV)

Here are a few companies to get you started:

  • JustHost
  • 1and1
  • NameCheap
  • Dotster
  • GoDaddy

And do an internet search on hosting companies – that will return quite a few.  Be mindful, many companies do business under multiple names.  I don’t generally consider this a very ethical practice; but not all companies who do this are dishonest.

 

One final personal note.

If NameCheap had more competative prices for hosting packages, and provided IMAP email I’d probably still be using them.  They do charge a little more than say 1and1, but they provide users the ability to control most every aspect of their domains.

I just moved all my domains from NameCheap to 1and1 when I decide I wanted to outsource my email, web, and blogs…

Originally posted 2008-05-12 13:17:53.

Hyper-V

I started to switch my virtualization hosts over to Server 2008 about two weeks ago; and I’ll give you some feedback on my experience.

The first thing you’re going to find with Hyper-V is that migrating your old virtual machines to Hyper-V isn’t particularly easy unless you want to purchase Microsoft’s virtual management server — quite a large expense for most users.

You can download a tool called VMC2HV (that converts Virtual Server / Virtual PC VMC files to Hyper-V format) and that will make it fairly easy for you, but there are still some things you need to watch for.

Before I talk about VMC2HV, there are some setting in Hyper-V you’ll want to change right off.

  • Set the path for your virtual machine configuration files.
  • Set the path for your virtual disks.
  • Setup a virtual network (you may need more than one depending on your configuration).

When using VMC2HV:

  • Make sure you tell VMC2HV where you want your Hyper-V files (and how you want to organize them).
  • Decide where you want to store your virtual disks (don’t store them under the virtual machine directory, put them in a separate tree.
  • Make sure you check the “swap SCSI 0 with IDE 0” box; if you used SCSI drives on Virtual Server, you need to remember you can’t boot from anything but IDE on Hyper-V; any additional disks you have can (and should) be SCSI.
  • Correct the virtual disk paths (and file names) if you’ve changed the location of the files.

I found that VMC2HV worked well… but it was far from perfect.

After you finish with VMC2HV you’ll need to setup the virtual network manually, and you’ll probably want to check all the setting.

VMC2HV certainly made it easy for me to jump start, but then I found that just recreating the virtual machines under Hyper-V was just about as easy.  The only “difficult” thing with the Hyper-V interface I’ve found is that getting it to put the configuration files where you want them is a little tedious, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it.

__________

I’m running Hyper-V on machines with: Intel Q6600 (Quad Core2 65nm) with 8GB of DDR2 memory (Corsair DHX) on Intel DG33TL motherboards and hardware RAID5 (fifteen spindles or eight spindles — I’ve two machines with each configuration).

I find that giving each virtual machine two processors makes them much more responsive, and even running far more cores than I actually have doesn’t swamp the host processor (most of the time my virtual machines are IO bound, waiting on network responses or dealing with disks).

Most likely for a home (or small office) virtualization server you’ll find what I’ve shown several of my clients — invest in memory and spindles.

  • If you can avoid any paging in the virtual machines you’ll see much better performance (so don’t give the machines more memory than they need and you have, and don’t create a paging file).
  • For any virtual machine that reads and writes the disks heavily the more spindles that make up the host volume the more current IO you will have, and that mean you’ll be able to sustain a higher IO rate.  And if you use RAID5 you get fault tolerance on your virtualization store.

__________

Installing the Hyper-V integration files is also a bit of a pain.  The Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager will do it automatically, but for those who don’t want to spend the money on something that is probably far more than you need you’ll have to do it by hand.

First you have to remove the old VMadditions that were put there by Virtual Server or Virtual PC.  If you do that before you move the files off your old machine it’s easier (you won’t have a mouse or network under Hyper-V until you complete the installation of the integration files).

Second you will upgrade the HAL, which is done automatically the first time you try to install the integration file (once you do this, there’s no easy way to go back to Virtual Server or Virtual PC, so save a copy of your boot VHD if you’re not sure).

Third you will install the integration files (which install the Windows Driver Foundation; and that’s the only problem I saw — apparently if the temporary directory doesn’t get created before WDF install runs, it fails — check you log files for more information, and just create the temporary directory by hand and re-run the setup for the integration files).

When you have the integration files install and reboot the machine should be working perfectly.

__________

I’m seeing a rather dramatic speed increase in my virtual machines using Hyper-V; which is really surprising since IO on the boot drive should be slower (since it uses IDE) than it was with Virtual Server (which used SCSI — highly para-virtualized).

I suspect that overall the way Hyper-V is built (you can read white papers on Hyper-V if you’re interested; you’ll also notice that Hyper-V and Xen conceptually share a similar architecture) is responsible for the speed increases; and the fact that you can allocate up to the number of physical cores you have to a guest machine or run 64-bit operating systems and software under Hyper-V you can really build out a virtual infrastructure which has great performance.

__________

Overall I’m pleased with Hyper-V, and have found it much easier to use on Server 2008 than trying to start with a Hyper-V Server (Microsoft gives away a version of Server 2008 which can only be used as a virtulization host; unfortunately you have to remotely administer it, and that isn’t as easy as it should be — it does work, but the learning curve is a little steep).

My feeling is that there will be a significant update to Hyper-V soon, adding more device support (and para-virtualization).  And the real question is:  Why isn’t there Hyper-V for Vista?  The two operating systems derive from a common code base, and certainly for developers having Hyper-V on a Vista workstation makes more sense, and since Microsoft gives away Hyper-V server they can’t argue that it will cannibalize sales!

Originally posted 2009-02-03 01:00:13.

Birthday Greetings…

To my sister, I think she’s 29 (again)! LOL

Originally posted 2009-02-04 01:00:50.

All over the map…

Yep, that’s a good description of my BLOG — and it’s intended to be that way.

While most of the time I focus on posting articles that convey information on technology, I certainly don’t shy away from the opportunity to rant or rave on something that’s on my mind.

That’s really the great thing about a personal BLOG; it allows you to share who you are, and what’s important to you.

Be assured that most of my posts are focused on technology and sharing what I know and learn… but from time to time you’re going to find a quote or some biting political or social commentary (I’ll try and hold my personal views to a minimum and just hope for getting you to think — but I do have my convictions, and they are strong).

Let me close this post by encouraging each and everyone to start a BLOG — there’s tons of places where you can get a BLOG for free, and it’s a wonderful place to record the thoughts and ideas that make you who you are and share them with the world if they choose to look!

Self awareness and open sharing may well be the foundation for a much brighter future — and certainly free though and free speach are values that we should not only fight to protect, but take advantage of every moment of our lives.

Originally posted 2010-01-03 01:00:03.