Tobacco v Alcohol

Every year tobacco kills more Americans than did World War II — more than AIDS, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, vehicular accidents, homicide and suicide combined.
· George Will; June 18th, 2009 Washington Post op-ed


BP Profits

Byron Grove, BP’s chief financial officer said a week after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion that it was too early to talk about how much BP would be spending on the cleanup.

2010 First Quarter financial statements for BP show profits double the same period last year at $6.08 billion.

Over the past few years BP has been fined for workplace safety violations… but apparently the company hasn’t had a problem staying in business and making record amounts of money.

The oil spill cleanup is after all, just a cost of doing business for BP; and perhaps it’s time to crank up that cost with hefty fines for each and every day it continues.

The Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar has threatened BP with a government take over of the clean up… but last I check the government was already involved.  And US Coast Guard Admiral Thad W Allen has been clear that their is little more that they can do… mainly because there isn’t a contingency plan for this type of spill — by any government agency.

In 1989 Exxon was hit hard by a consumer boycott when they dragged their feet in the clean up of the Valdez spill; but so far there’s no sign that consumers are slowing their purchases at BP — the largest oil and gas producer in North American, and one of the largest in the United States (selling under the retail labels of BP and Arco).

Maybe when the news media starts providing images of animals and habitat that’s devastated by the oil spill consumers might wake up — but there are actually live feeds of the oil spewing from the damaged rig that show oil-soaked birds and now there’s plenty of footage of landfall of the spill in Louisiana… so maybe not.

The oil and gas industries are the 14th largest contributors to congress — almost $7 billion per year ( — don’t be shocked by how many times Harry Reid is the #1 recipient of that money — and by all means use this list to know who to vote out of office) — so it’s understandable why the federal government is slow is really punish BP; after all, we know that our elected official look out for their interests first (which involves looking out for the interests of those who give you money — over those who you consider sheep who’ll just continue to vote for you).

FINES FINES and MORE FINES — if BP is making money hand over foot, let’s make sure that they bare the full cost of this cleanup and the costs of un-doing the damage that they’ve caused…  I’m thinking $50 million per day would be just about right to force BP to take real action.

Originally posted 2010-05-28 02:00:19.

Credit or Debit

When you use your check card bearing a VISA or Master Card logo at a merchant to pay for a transaction you’re given a choice of how the point of sale transaction will be settled — and that’s generally presented to you as “credit” or “debit”.

Should you care which?


Most merchants would prefer that you choose to settle the point of sale transaction as a debit; and the reason is very simple — money.  Most any merchant will make more from a debit card transaction than a credit transaction (but remember, they’ve built in the credit card charges to their pricing – so you’re not benefiting in the least).  Plus, the funds will be removed from your account almost instantly.  Also, when you choose to do a point of sale transaction as debit, you’ll have to enter your PIN (just like when you use an ATM).  While you might think having to use your PIN is far more secure, in point of fact you’re exposing sensitive information in a public setting — numerous times criminals have compromised merchant networks and obtained both customer debit card account numbers and their PINs.  Keep in mind, even if you can show that your number was used fraudulently, it will take a great deal of effort and time to get your money back — and that might just be the beginning of the nightmare.


When you decide that your transaction will be settled through the VISA or Master Card network (just like a credit card would be) by hitting the “credit” button you will get all the protection that would be afforded to you had you used a credit card.  Federal law protects credit card users; but both VISA and Master Card go beyond the scope of law with their zero liability programs; and if somehow your account is compromised having funds conditionally credited back to you is a simple phone call (and perhaps notarized affidavit) away.  Sure, it might cost the merchant more money for the transaction; but it doesn’t cost you more.  Plus, while the funds to cover the transaction might be placed on hold, they will remain in your account (earning interest perhaps) for several days.  Additionally, if your financial institution has a rewards programs, generally you only earn points in it with credit transactions (that’s because your financial institution makes more money when you choose a credit transaction as well).  Finally, since the transaction settles through the VISA or Master Card network; the fraud prevention systems of VISA or Master Card, in addition to any your financial institution come into play.

Why on Earth would anyone choose to do debit card transaction (using a PIN) when a credit transaction is much, much safer for the individual, and simpler (though you can argue if you have to enter your ZIP code you’ve typed one more digit than your PIN)???

Bottom line — choose wisely; choose credit!

VISA Master Card

NOTE: For debit cards issued by non-US financial institutions; or cards not bearing the VISA or Master Card logos, please contact your issuing financial institution or consult governing laws in your jurisdiction.

Originally posted 2010-07-30 02:00:40.

AT&T U-Verse – Internet – Gnutella2

After a fair amount of experimentation and “thinking”…

As I posted earlier that AT&T U-Verse Residential Gateway Router doesn’t handle a large number of connections well.

In fact, when you try to have large numbers of simultaneous connections through the router traffic can slow to a crawl.

It appears that this sluggishness might be related to large numbers of inbound connections (which further substantiates my theory that this might be by design).

With Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file sharing systems such as Gnutella 2 (found in Shareaza, MLdonkey, Morpheus, etc) operating in hub mode you’d see a far greater number of inbound network connections than with the same protocol operating in leaf mode (or most any other P2P software).

A simple work around (though not necessary a good overall solution) is to disable your P2P file sharing application from operating with G2 in hub mode; that will greatly reduce the number of inbound connections and thus you’ll see your U-Verse gateway operating much better.

There are, of course, advantages to operating in hub mode (and there needs to be nodes operating in hub mode for G2 to work efficiently); but with U-Verse you’re not doing the world any real good operating in a mode that slows traffic to a crawl.


While this post is relevant specifically to U-Verse, AT&T provides 2Wire gateways for ADSL service as well; so you may find that disabling hub mode in G2 on non-U-Verse systems improves overall performance as well.

Originally posted 2010-05-22 02:00:59.


For those who like the “keep-it-simple” model, and don’t need advanced control of a FTP, SFTP, SCP connection, you might want to consider a long term Mac solution now available for Windows as well.

It’s a very simple, clean interface.  On the Mac it’s a pretty seamless experience, but not integrated into finder.  On Windows the interface isn’t completely Window-like, but quite easy to use and navigate (it leverages a bit much off the Mac version)

While I think this is a very good, and certainly good value (free) I tend to use FileZilla; but I probably have more specific needs for file transfers than many users.

Originally posted 2011-09-14 02:00:27.

HTML Special Character Reference

- ID Code - Description
Á 193 Aacute 1 latin capital letter A with acute
á 225 aacute 1 latin small letter a with acute
â 226 acirc 1 latin small letter a with circumflex
 194 Acirc 1 latin capital letter A with circumflex
´ 180 acute 1 acute accent
æ 230 aelig 1 latin small letter ae
Æ 198 AElig 1 latin capital letter AE
À 192 Agrave 1 latin capital letter A with grave
à 224 agrave 1 latin small letter a with grave
8501 alefsym L alef symbol
Α 913 Alpha G greek capital letter alpha
α 945 alpha G greek small letter alpha
& 38 amp C ampersand
8743 and M logical and
8736 ang M angle
å 229 aring 1 latin small letter a with ring above
Å 197 Aring 1 latin capital letter A with ring above
8776 asymp M almost equal to
à 195 Atilde 1 latin capital letter A with tilde
ã 227 atilde 1 latin small letter a with tilde
Ä 196 Auml 1 latin capital letter A with diaeresis
ä 228 auml 1 latin small letter a with diaeresis
8222 bdquo U double low-9 quotation mark
Β 914 Beta G greek capital letter beta
β 946 beta G greek small letter beta
¦ 166 brvbar 1 broken bar
8226 bull P bullet
8745 cap M intersection
Ç 199 Ccedil 1 latin capital letter C with cedilla
ç 231 ccedil 1 latin small letter c with cedilla
¸ 184 cedil 1 cedilla
¢ 162 cent 1 cent sign
χ 967 chi G greek small letter chi
Χ 935 Chi G greek capital letter chi
ˆ 710 circ D modifier letter circumflex accent
9827 clubs S black club suit
8773 cong M approximately equal to
© 169 copy 1 copyright sign
8629 crarr A downwards arrow with corner leftwards
8746 cup M union
¤ 164 curren 1 currency sign
8224 dagger U dagger
8225 Dagger U double dagger
8659 dArr A downwards double arrow
8595 darr A downwards arrow
° 176 deg 1 degree sign
Δ 916 Delta G greek capital letter delta
δ 948 delta G greek small letter delta
9830 diams S black diamond suit
÷ 247 divide 1 division sign
é 233 eacute 1 latin small letter e with acute
É 201 Eacute 1 latin capital letter E with acute
Ê 202 Ecirc 1 latin capital letter E with circumflex
ê 234 ecirc 1 latin small letter e with circumflex
è 232 egrave 1 latin small letter e with grave
È 200 Egrave 1 latin capital letter E with grave
8709 empty M empty set
8195 emsp U em space
8194 ensp U en space
ε 949 epsilon G greek small letter epsilon
Ε 917 Epsilon G greek capital letter epsilon
8801 equiv M identical to
Η 919 Eta G greek capital letter eta
η 951 eta G greek small letter eta
ð 240 eth 1 latin small letter eth
Ð 208 ETH 1 latin capital letter ETH
ë 235 euml 1 latin small letter e with diaeresis
Ë 203 Euml 1 latin capital letter E with diaeresis
8364 euro U euro sign
8707 exist M there exists
ƒ 402 fnof I latin small f with hook
8704 forall M for all
½ 189 frac12 1 vulgar fraction one half
¼ 188 frac14 1 vulgar fraction one quarter
¾ 190 frac34 1 vulgar fraction three quarters
8260 frasl P fraction slash
Γ 915 Gamma G greek capital letter gamma
γ 947 gamma G greek small letter gamma
8805 ge M greater-than or equal to
> 62 gt C greater-than sign
8660 hArr A left right double arrow
8596 harr A left right arrow
9829 hearts S black heart suit
8230 hellip P horizontal ellipsis
í 237 iacute 1 latin small letter i with acute
Í 205 Iacute 1 latin capital letter I with acute
î 238 icirc 1 latin small letter i with circumflex
Î 206 Icirc 1 latin capital letter I with circumflex
¡ 161 iexcl 1 inverted exclamation mark
Ì 204 Igrave 1 latin capital letter I with grave
ì 236 igrave 1 latin small letter i with grave
8465 image L blackletter capital I
8734 infin M infinity
8747 int M integral
Ι 921 Iota G greek capital letter iota
ι 953 iota G greek small letter iota
¿ 191 iquest 1 inverted question mark
8712 isin M element of
Ï 207 Iuml 1 latin capital letter I with diaeresis
ï 239 iuml 1 latin small letter i with diaeresis
Κ 922 Kappa G greek capital letter kappa
κ 954 kappa G greek small letter kappa
λ 955 lambda G greek small letter lambda
Λ 923 Lambda G greek capital letter lambda
9001 lang T left-pointing angle bracket
« 171 laquo 1 left-pointing double angle quotation mark
8592 larr A leftwards arrow
8656 lArr A leftwards double arrow
8968 lceil T left ceiling
8220 ldquo U left double quotation mark
8804 le M less-than or equal to
8970 lfloor T left floor
8727 lowast M asterisk operator
9674 loz E lozenge
8206 lrm U left-to-right mark
8249 lsaquo U single left-pointing angle quotation mark
8216 lsquo U left single quotation mark
< 60 lt C less-than sign
¯ 175 macr 1 macron
8212 mdash U em dash
µ 181 micro 1 micro sign
· 183 middot 1 middle dot
8722 minus M minus sign
Μ 924 Mu G greek capital letter mu
μ 956 mu G greek small letter mu
8711 nabla M nabla
  160 nbsp 1 no-break space
8211 ndash U en dash
8800 ne M not equal to
8715 ni M contains as member
¬ 172 not 1 not sign
8713 notin M not an element of
8836 nsub M not a subset of
ñ 241 ntilde 1 latin small letter n with tilde
Ñ 209 Ntilde 1 latin capital letter N with tilde
Ν 925 Nu G greek capital letter nu
ν 957 nu G greek small letter nu
ó 243 oacute 1 latin small letter o with acute
Ó 211 Oacute 1 latin capital letter O with acute
Ô 212 Ocirc 1 latin capital letter O with circumflex
ô 244 ocirc 1 latin small letter o with circumflex
Π338 OElig O latin capital ligature OE
œ 339 oelig O latin small ligature oe
ò 242 ograve 1 latin small letter o with grave
Ò 210 Ograve 1 latin capital letter O with grave
8254 oline P overline
ω 969 omega G greek small letter omega
Ω 937 Omega G greek capital letter omega
Ο 927 Omicron G greek capital letter omicron
ο 959 omicron G greek small letter omicron
8853 oplus M circled plus
8744 or M logical or
ª 170 ordf 1 feminine ordinal indicator
º 186 ordm 1 masculine ordinal indicator
Ø 216 Oslash 1 latin capital letter O with stroke
ø 248 oslash 1 latin small letter o with stroke
Õ 213 Otilde 1 latin capital letter O with tilde
õ 245 otilde 1 latin small letter o with tilde
8855 otimes M circled times
Ö 214 Ouml 1 latin capital letter O with diaeresis
ö 246 ouml 1 latin small letter o with diaeresis
182 para 1 pilcrow sign
8706 part M partial differential
8240 permil U per mille sign
8869 perp M up tack
φ 966 phi G greek small letter phi
Φ 934 Phi G greek capital letter phi
Π 928 Pi G greek capital letter pi
π 960 pi G greek small letter pi
ϖ 982 piv G greek pi symbol
± 177 plusmn 1 plus-minus sign
£ 163 pound 1 pound sign
8243 Prime P double prime
8242 prime P prime
8719 prod M n-ary product
8733 prop M proportional to
ψ 968 psi G greek small letter psi
Ψ 936 Psi G greek capital letter psi
34 quot C quotation mark
8730 radic M square root
9002 rang T right-pointing angle bracket
» 187 raquo 1 right-pointing double angle quotation mark
8658 rArr A rightwards double arrow
8594 rarr A rightwards arrow
8969 rceil T right ceiling
8221 rdquo U right double quotation mark
8476 real L blackletter capital R
® 174 reg 1 registered sign
8971 rfloor T right floor
Ρ 929 Rho G greek capital letter rho
ρ 961 rho G greek small letter rho
8207 rlm U right-to-left mark
8250 rsaquo U single right-pointing angle quotation mark
8217 rsquo U right single quotation mark
8218 sbquo U single low-9 quotation mark
Š 352 Scaron O latin capital letter S with caron
š 353 scaron O latin small letter s with caron
8901 sdot M dot operator
§ 167 sect 1 section sign
­ 173 shy 1 soft hyphen
Σ 931 Sigma G greek capital letter sigma
σ 963 sigma G greek small letter sigma
ς 962 sigmaf G greek small letter final sigma
8764 sim M tilde operator
9824 spades S black spade suit
8834 sub M subset of
8838 sube M subset of or equal to
8721 sum M n-ary sumation
8835 sup M superset of
¹ 185 sup1 1 superscript one
² 178 sup2 1 superscript two
³ 179 sup3 1 superscript three
8839 supe M superset of or equal to
ß 223 szlig 1 latin small letter sharp s
Τ 932 Tau G greek capital letter tau
τ 964 tau G greek small letter tau
8756 there4 M therefore
Θ 920 Theta G greek capital letter theta
θ 952 theta G greek small letter theta
ϑ 977 thetasym G greek small letter theta symbol
8201 thinsp U thin space
Þ 222 THORN 1 latin capital letter THORN
þ 254 thorn 1 latin small letter thorn with
˜ 732 tilde D small tilde
× 215 times 1 multiplication sign
8482 trade L trade mark sign
ú 250 uacute 1 latin small letter u with acute
Ú 218 Uacute 1 latin capital letter U with acute
8657 uArr A upwards double arrow
8593 uarr A upwards arrow
û 251 ucirc 1 latin small letter u with circumflex
Û 219 Ucirc 1 latin capital letter U with circumflex
Ù 217 Ugrave 1 latin capital letter U with grave
ù 249 ugrave 1 latin small letter u with grave
¨ 168 uml 1 diaeresis
ϒ 978 upsih G greek upsilon with hook symbol
υ 965 upsilon G greek small letter upsilon
Υ 933 Upsilon G greek capital letter upsilon
ü 252 uuml 1 latin small letter u with diaeresis
Ü 220 Uuml 1 latin capital letter U with diaeresis
8472 weierp L script capital P
ξ 958 xi G greek small letter xi
Ξ 926 Xi G greek capital letter xi
ý 253 yacute 1 latin small letter y with acute
Ý 221 Yacute 1 latin capital letter Y with acute
¥ 165 yen 1 yen sign
ÿ 255 yuml 1 latin small letter y with diaeresis
Ÿ 376 Yuml O latin capital letter Y with diaeresis
Ζ 918 Zeta G greek capital letter zeta
ζ 950 zeta G greek small letter zeta
8205 zwj U zero width joiner
8204 zwnj U zero width non-joiner

Section Description
P General punctuation
A Arrows
1 General characters
C Controls and basic latin
S Miscellaneous symbols
D Spacing modified letters
T Miscellaneous technical characters
U General punctuation (special characters)
E Geometric shapes
G Greek symbols
I Latin extended B
L Letterlike symbols
M Mathematical operators
O Latin extended A

Originally posted 2008-05-16 14:04:48.

So you want to be in pictures…

Or rather should I say that you want to be able to play “moving pictures” on your computer…

You computer may have come with software for playing back video, DVDs, etc — or the operating system version you installed might support some formats; but eventually you’re going to reach a point where you want to play something that you don’t have support for and you might not feel like spending a lot of money.

There are two major issues with playing back media:

  1. Your computer needs software that is able to decode the audio and the video portions of the media; and
  2. Your computer needs software that is able to “break apart” the audio from the video.

The first piece of software is call a “decoder” — or often times a codec.  And you’ll hear things like MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264, etc for video and things like AC3, AAC, PCM, DTS, MP3, etc for audio.

The second piece of software is called a mux (specifically for play back a de-mux) — and those take particular containers and split them into the separate audio and video streams.  The file extension generally tell you about the “envelope” the data is contained in, or how it was muxed.  Some standards mux specifications, but even when the audio/video standard includes a way to mux the data, it might be in a richer envelope that supports alternate audio streams, alternate video streams, hyperlinks, closed captions, multiple languages, etc.

A growing open standard for containing audio and video is the Matroska format.  It’s generally designated as .mkv for audio/video files and .mka for audio files.

It’s a rich standard well supported on Windows, OS-X, and *nix platforms.

For more information visit the Matroska Offical Homepage:

You’ll not only find information on the Matroska format, but links to many free tools to help you play back that audio and video format you’re having trouble with.

Originally posted 2008-12-14 01:00:52.

The Dawn…

And now the dawn of a new day and with it a new year…

Once our collective head ache clears I’m sure the future will seam sunny and bright; even though today is overcast and bleak.

Originally posted 2010-01-01 01:00:22.

Happy Samhain

Samhain is the name for the Gaelic festival you probably know better as Halloween (All Saints’ Eve or All Hallows’ Eve).

For an excellent article on the history of Halloween and the origins of many of the traditions we know, read up on Wikipedia — you might be surprised by what you read.

Halloween on Wikipedia

Originally posted 2009-10-31 01:00:07.


I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.
· Buddha

Originally posted 2011-03-24 01:00:04.