Summer Solstice 2015

June 21 2015 16:38 GMT

Beware the Ides of March

The Ides of March, May, July, and October would be the 15th day of the month.

The Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars (Aries in Greek Mythology) and a military parade was held to honor the god of war.

The Ides of March is best remembered as the day Julius Caesar was assassinated in 709 AUC or 44 BC.

Of course, General George Washington also quelled a mutiny of his officers in 1783; but fortunately no one was stabbed as they were in Rome roughly 18 centuries before.

Originally posted 2010-03-15 01:00:17.

Re-Usable Shopping Bags

Rather than throw away bags that stores provide to you, why not consider purchasing some re-usable shopping bags?

Reduce, reuse, recycle…

You’re reducing the number of plastic (or paper) bags that need to be produced and recycled (or otherwise disposed of).

You’re reusing the same bag over and over.

You’re recycling, since almost every reusable shopping bag is made from 100% post consumer recycled material.

I know most vendors seem to want to charge around $1 each for these (and that’s ridiculous — and unconscionable to try and gouge a profit on people who are trying to do the right thing), but watch the sales at Walgreen’s, they put regularly advertise their smaller bag (which is perfect for most shopping) at 3 for $1 (with coupon in their advertising circular — look NOW).

Originally posted 2010-04-23 02:00:46.

Good-Bye CVS…

I’ve been using the Concurrent Version System (CVS) for almost a decade, running mostly on a Windows server machine (the March-Hare CVSNT Open Source build); but a few months ago I made the switch to Subversion (the VisualSVN Open Source build).

Why?

Well it wasn’t because CVS wasn’t working (well — there were a few nasties in a couple recent builds of the client; but that wasn’t it)… it was because CVS and TortoiseCVS simply weren’t taking Vista (and particularly Vista64) seriously and I didn’t want to be limited by my source control.

The transition from CVS to SVN was painless, and the server works great (and the GUI administration tool from VisualSVN is really why I picked them — I don’t want to be a full time source control administrator; for professional use the CollabNet Windows SVN Server might be a better choice); and of course TortoiseSVN clients (they have both 32 and 64 bit versions, that work fine with Vista as well as Server 2003 x64 & x32 plus XP).

The SVN model is a little different from CVS… and of course SVN is designed from the ground up to work over the internet (it’s hosted as a module for Apache).

If you’re in the middle of selecting a “free” source control solution; I’d say you only have one real choice in this day and age… you simply need to decide the platform you’re going to run your server on, and which build you want to use of Subversion.

Originally posted 2008-07-16 16:48:46.

Where Can You Use Credit Cards?

Here’s a quick list:

  • Grocery stores (3% category on Citi & Chase)
  • Gasoline (3% category on Citi & Chase)
  • Pharmacies (3% category on Citi)
  • Fast Food (3% category on Chase; bonuses for Blinx)
  • Electric & Gas Bills (I highly recommend virtual card numbers)
  • Telephone Bills (I highly recommend virtual card numbers)
  • Cellular Bills (I highly recommend virtual card numbers)
  • Cable Bills (I highly recommend virtual card numbers)
  • Traffic Fines (provided there’s no convenience fee,  I highly recommend virtual card numbers)
  • Property Taxes (provided there’s no convenience fee,  I highly recommend virtual card numbers)
  • Retail
  • Dining Out
  • Movies
  • Movie Rentals
  • Online Shopping (I highly recommend virtual card numbers)
  • Colleges and Schools
  • Travel
  • Hotels

There’s virtually no limit to where you can use credit cards; and every place you use cards that pay cash back gives you cash back (up to you limit, and then just switch cards).

Then you can pay your credit card with you bill payment service; or you can have your credit card company issue an ACH directly from you checking, savings, or money market account (this actually keeps the money in your account longer, and instantly credits to your credit card — of course you’re authorizing your credit card company to withdraw from your cash accounts, so you have decide if it’s right for you and you generally have the option of either automatic payment or directed payments).

———-

Blinx is Chase’s name for PayWay / PayPoint / FastPay — the RFID enabled credit card way to pay (Chase embeds RFID chips inside of many of their credit cards); currently they provide incentives to get people to use RFID style payment.

Virtual Credit Card Numbers are available through services offered by a number of credit card companies.  They differ slightly in implementation, but essentially allow you to set charge amount limits, and expiry dates.  Once an authorization is done to a virtual credit card number the card can only be charged against by that merchant.  You can generally extend the expiry date and charge amount at any time you want.  And you can terminate the card at any time you want (you cannot prevent already authorized charges from being committed to the card).  This is an excellent fraud deterrent, and prevents companies from charging any authorized fees to your account (which saves you the trouble of having to file a charge back).  I’ve used virtual card number ever since I had an MBNA VISA card (MBNA was acquired by Bank of America), they were one of the big innovators in this technology.

Originally posted 2008-05-16 21:35:48.

Toshiba IS02

The Toshiba IS02 is a Windows Mobile 6.5.3 powered smart phone with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and a 4.1″ AMOLED touchscreen sporting a 3.2MP digital camera, 384MB RAM, 512MB ROM, business card reader, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi with a GSM quad-band radio and 3G data.

It’s reported to be one of the slimmest WinMo phones available — and it has a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard!

Hopefully Toshiba will export the phone to the American market, and continue to innovate and push the competition.

Toshiba IS02

Originally posted 2010-07-19 02:00:11.

Blogging Software

I looked at quite a few blogging solutions before I settled on Word Press, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts.

There are a number of free blogging services; indeed Word Press operates one.  Generally when you use a free service you get advertising on your pages (I really didn’t care for that, just like I don’t care for advertising on my web page).  But the one thing that always is the problem with free services is, you get what you get… and you’re stuck with it.

I tend to like to have full control over my information, so I decided to install the software to run my blog so that I could change ANYTHING I wanted to about it.  And Word Press is open source, written in PHP, so it’s realatively straight forward to make any changes you want.  And, of course, the price is right — FREE.

There are tons of addons (widgets, themes, and pluggins); though not all of them are free.  There are commerical addons available for Word Press as well.

I looked at several other solutions, originally ASP based solutions (when I was running Microsoft IIS), but then when I switched to a hosting company something that ran on PHP, PERL, Python became a more practical solution (my hosting company provides more flexible services with a Linux hosting plan than with a Microsoft hosting plan).

Here’s a list blogging software written in PHP (in no particular order) you might want to take a look at:

And here’s a list blogging software written for ASP (in no particular order) you might want to take a look at:

 

You’ll want to evaluate blogging software with your requirements in mind; but one thing to keep in mind is most blogging software supports importing from another system via RSS.  That might not be a requirement for the first blogging system you choose (but I think it shows a level of maturity in the software), it certainly will be for any blogging software after that.

One thing to keep in mind, the information in a blog site is written into a database; and while it wouldn’t be my first choice, you can dump the database to get the text of the ariticles, but it’s unlikely your going to be able to directly import it into another system’s database (without a lot of work).

Originally posted 2008-05-15 11:24:35.

nextbook 7S 7″ Tablet

BigLots has the nextbook 7S 7″ Tablet running Android 4.o (Ice Cream Sandwitch – ICS) on special this weekend for $89.99 (regularly $99.99, and only $72.00 if you have a Rewards 20% off coupon).

The tablet has a 7″ resistive screen with 800×400 resolution, a 1GB Rockchip 2918 ARM Cortex A-8 processor, 512MB RAM, 4GB of flash, and an SD slot.  And while ICS is loaded, there’s no Google Play Store (you can resolve that with a hacked ROM — see FreakTab.com), but the one thing you will not be able to “fix” is the resistive screen.

While it’s a good resistive screen, and it supports multi-point touch — it requires way too much pressure to be comfortable to use.

One other thing I noticed, was when I tried to stream music (using Amazon) the tablet lost it’s internet connection — my Xoom on the other side of the desk had no issues playing the exact same song; and while I did eventually get the nextbook to play streaming music, the tablet was very sluggish while doing so (my songs are encoded at 320kps), plus I was unimpressed with the quality of the speaker (there is a headphone jack on it).

Also, the tablet (like most budget ones) lacks both Bluetooth and GPS.

The last (minor) thing I noted was that there were some issues with rendering along the notification area, I don’t think nextbook got everything resized quite right for this 7″ model (text would be cut off or overlapping an icon).  Like I said, very minor — but I’m not sure it’d be high on their list to fix since they just came out with a capacitive version of this tablet (and the resistive version hasn’t been out that long).

My advice, hold out for the slew of multi-core Android 4.0 tablets that will hit the streets this Summer at a price about twice what this one sells for — those will be from “bigger” companies that are likely to support them for longer.  Though if you just can’t afford more for a tablet, this is probably one of your best choices (plus the hacker community has already taken to this tablet).

nextbook 7S

nextbook 7S

Originally posted 2012-05-27 02:00:05.

Elive – Luxury Linux

I’ll have to start my post off with what may seam like a very unfair comment; and it may be.

I’ll prefix this with I don’t ever feel comfortable with individuals or companies who try and charge for Open Source software when they don’t offer anything tangible for that money, and they don’t allow (and encourage) you to try out what you’re going paying for before you are asked to pay for it.

Elive falls squarely into this category.

You cannot download a “stable” version of Elive unless you make some donation (I believe $10 is the minimum donation) from the publishers site (you certainly can find torrents and ftp links to download it from other sites if you’re willing to put a few minutes into it).

Strictly my opinion; but I suspect the publisher realizes that no one would ever pay him for a “stable” version of Elive because what he passes off as stable isn’t.

When Elive boots, it’s striking, and all the applications that are installed with it seem to work nicely.  The interface, while not 100% Mac-like, is intuitive and easy to use…

So why start with such a strong negative stand?

Easy, Elive just isn’t stable.  It’s mostly form with little function.

What’s included on the CD seems to work fairly well, but start updating components or installing additional software (the VirtualBox guest additions started me on the road to ruin) and then the trouble starts… laughingly you have an environment with the stability of Windows 9x on junker hardware rather than OS-X (or Linux).

I suspect that the failing of Elive is that it isn’t a collaborative project of many people; nor is it a commercial venture from a publisher with the resources to adequately test it.

I simply wouldn’t pursue it the way it’s being pursued — but I like quality, and would simply not be comfortable asking for donations from people who will probably end up not being able to use the version they donated to (and there’s no mention that you get upgrades for life for free or only need donate again when you feel you’ve gotten something of substance).

My advice… look at the free “unstable” build, play with it, make it do what you want it to do — when it crashes move on; don’t expect a great deal more from the “stable”.

Hopefully, though, others will look at Elive and see the potential and we’ll see another distribution that is every bit as flashy and way more stable.

Elive

Originally posted 2010-01-04 01:00:17.

No Soliciting!

Last week when I was outside washing out the litter box I noticed a gathering of “strangers” getting ready to pass out leaflets.

I went back inside and finished preparing my dinner… no sooner than I’d sat down my door bell rang.

At the door was a middle aged woman with one of the bright yellow leaflets I’d seen who started to say she was from the XXX Baptist Church — I immediately told her that anything being peddled door to door wasn’t worth having, and closed the door.

SPAMmers, junk mailers, tele-marketers, and door to door peddlers seem to believe that they have every right to intrude on your privacy.

But they don’t…

I’ve been doing a fair amount of research and some where along the line people began to believe that “soliciting” required the exchange of money; well legally and technically it only involves making a request.

Interesting enough there have been tons of Federal District and Circuit Court rulings on the subject; including a few Supreme Court rulings.  It appears that all you need do to protect your privacy is post either a “No Soliciting” or a “No Trespassing” sign on your property (if your neighborhood has private streets it can choose to post signs at the entrances which have equal weight under the law).

Should someone knock on your door soliciting you, you have every right to file a police report, and require that the police take action.

While religious and political organizations have every right to distribute their information, their rights do not supersede your right to privacy and your right to control access to your property.

I encourage each and every one of you to take back control of your home, your phone, your mailbox, and your email… use the law to make it uncomfortable for those who believe their rights and greed circumvent your privacy.

Originally posted 2009-08-24 01:00:54.