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PDF Viewing

PDF (Portable Document Format) was developed by Adobe Systems in 1994 but as of July 1, 2008 it’s an open standard (ISO 32000-1:2008) and there are a host of tools, many free, that allow you to create, view, and work with PDFs.

Personally I’m not a fan of the Adobe reader; it’s fat (way fat) and slow (way slow — and I don’t need their “accelerator” running all the time) so I choose to run Foxit Reader; they have versions for Windows, Windows Mobile, and Linux available for free (they have other products as well).

Originally posted 2008-11-24 12:00:36.

The Media Home

It may come as a shock to you, but computers are here to stay, and there’s at least one in almost every home in the country.

Computers in the home are becoming a “fabric” around which we build and manage our lives, our communications, and our entertainment to enumerate just a few critical areas.

But, almost nothing plays nicely together… and that’s a real problem for the average consumer who’s never figured out how to set the clock on their microwave oven!

A sleepy little company in Redmond, Washington introduced a product they call “Windows Home Server”… it’s really not a revolutionary product, it’s more just a repackaging of technology they already had — it’s just designed to be easy to install and maintain; and it’s targeted at the home market (much like Small Business Server was to the small business without an IT staff).

Why has Microsoft targeted a product like this at the home market?

Easy — he who defines the fabric of the home network is most likely to reap the rewards in controlling the devices the consumer buys for them.

Microsoft has tried for years to get low end versions of Windows into just about everything (Windows CE, Windows Mobile, etc)… and the Microsoft Home Server is another attempt at that.

Now since we have cell phones, music players, video players, navigation systems, and a host of other things built on top of Windows, Microsoft is making the move to make everything work together — well, at least sort of work together (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve deleted the partnership between my phone and my PC to get them to sync).

But the key is here, they will target the consumer, and the consumer will most likely purchase additional hardware and software that is “certified” to work.

Certainly Microsoft isn’t the only company chasing after control of the infrastructure; but they are one of the biggest… and certainly wisdom would suggest that you not put yourself firmly in the cross hairs of a market segment Microsoft is targeting.

Bottom line is, keep your eyes open for a host of products for the home that leverage off of Microsoft core technology that attempt to bring the average consumer into the digital media era.

Originally posted 2008-06-05 01:10:52.

The Tax Man!

It’s tax day, the deadline to file Federal (and State) Income Tax returns in the United States…

My vote is that we do away with income tax entirely; implement a “wealth” tax and a VAT.

Simplify the tax laws!

Originally posted 2009-04-15 12:00:45.

Libre Office

In the beginning there was WordStar, then WordPerfect, then Word… then Microsoft Office, Star Office, Open Office, Go OO — and all was fine until Oracle purchased Sun…

Now we have Libre Office — which is the Open Source Community’s answer to Larry Ellison’s initial statements about commercializing Open Office (after all, open doesn’t necessarily mean free).

While Oracle has since halted plans for commercialization of Open Office, and turned Open Office over to community development; the forked version of the code which became Libre Office supported by The Document Foundation is quickly becoming the defacto personal productivity suite.  Go OO has already started combining their code improvements into the Libre Office mainline codebase, and has announced plans to cease development of their branch of Open Office in favor of having one community based project.

While the name Open Office might be easier to say than Libre Office… there’s not doubt that Libre Office will be the right choice for individuals and businesses who are tired of big business exerting control over their document software.

Go ahead, uninstall Open Office and install Libre Office 3.3 (or what ever the latest version happens to be) — be part of the future.

http://www.libreoffice.org/

 

Originally posted 2011-04-25 02:00:44.

#MeToo

I’ll open by underscoring this is my personal opinion.

I’ve read and watched a number of individuals come forward about being sexually harassed in the past — and I think that’s a great travesty that people would take advantage of another based on their position, social status, wealth, or power — but let’s wake up here… that is how the world has operated (and we’ve all turned blind eyes for years, decades, millenniums), so let’s ratchet down the (false) indignation and work for a newer world order where harassment is a thing of the past.

I see this as an issue were we need not only looks at who did what — but when it was done.

Yes, the standards 10, 20, 30, 40, 50… years ago were very different than it is today.  And the way things were done might be appalling by today’s standards, but none the less that’s how they were done and we all knew it (don’t even try to pretend you thought all those stories of the “casting couch” and “sexitaries” was just locker-room banter… you knew it was true, and simply chose to do nothing about it).

Here on MLK day I’ve decided to share my thoughts — though let’s not pretend like MLK was a saint… he too was a sinner. He too (seemingly) had issues with equal rights for all (you didn’t hear him mention women, you didn’t hear him mention races other than white and black, you didn’t hear him mention gays).  The one thing Dr King did do: he opened up dialog which started to move this country forward from a long period of stagnation.

My feeling is actions which happened many years ago need to be looked at in the light of the prevailing time… those people need to be admonished at minimum, but if they didn’t cross what was the norm at the time that needs to be the end of it.  We just need to make sure that we update our image of the past and those personalities to include that they failed to treat everyone with the respect they deserved, and failed to take a stand to end harassment.

However, when similar things are happening now, or within the past several years — that’s different.  Clearly these events are transgressions that go far beyond the accepted norms.  Not only do we need to admonish these individuals, but we need to take action to insure that they and the industries they are in change.  That change needs to occur sooner, not later.

Should they be fired — yes — if they don’t have the courage and integrity to resign.

But should individuals who committed transgressions many, many years back when times were different be fired — that’s a little more complex; we need to look at the individual now, appraise what changes have been made to their life, and if they are still that same person.  If they are — then they’re out; however, if they’ve made change… we can give them a little time under the microscope before we make our final decision.

I’m all for zero tolerance, but zero tolerance never seems to be that (just check when the local school’s sports hero crosses the zero tolerance line, there always seems to be tolerance for at least a second chance — so something else we need to be honest with ourselves about — rarely do we really have zero tolerance, it’s just a catch phrase).

Personally I abhor harassment of any kind, I abhor those who feel they are better than others and can get away with it, I abhor those who help hide it and punish the victims… but this is a problem where we have to start to resolve today, and not get carried away with witch-hunt after witch-hunt of “dark” figures from out past.

Galaxy Nexus

I got a new handset today… a Google (Samsung) Galaxy Nexus.

My Motorola Droid (A855 — the original one) was getting a little dated and running way too slow for me.

I was originally thinking about the Motorola Droid 4, and held out until that was released to make up my mind (I really liked the idea of a physical keyboard); but when I found that Motorola pulled GSM support (added in the Droid 2 Global, and kept in the Droid 3) as well as used a crappy display (compared to the Droid Razr — which the Droid 4 is basically a Droid Razr with a keyboard) I decide it just wouldn’t satisfy me.

I considered switching from Verizon to a pre-paid GSM plan and getting the Galaxy Nexus GSM model, but one of my Google friends had gotten the Verizon CDMA model from Google and offered to give it to me (I guess I can consider it a birthday present — and again, THANK YOU very much), so I decide to go ahead and try it.

I’d already confirmed with Verizon that my plan (unlimited data) wouldn’t require any changes to support an LTE handset (woot)… so when the phone arrived today I called up and activated the handset and SIM.

The handset has a stunning display… there’s just no way to describe it without seeing it, the 3.65″ Super AMOLED curved display is wonderful.  And of course with a 1.2 GHz dual core processor and Ice Cream Sandwitch (ICS – Android 4.0) it’s about as “new” a handset as you can get.

Technically (by the map) Verizon doesn’t have LTE at my home, but outside I do get a weak LTE signal (and let me tell you, a weak LTE/4G signal is way faster than a good CMDA/3G signal)… it’s not really an issue that I don’t get LTE at home, just slightly West of here there’s stable LTE coverage, and hopefully Verizon will continue their 4G build out in this area.

Next task will be to root the phone so that I have unfettered access the power of Android 4.0.


Google Galaxy Nexus

Originally posted 2012-04-13 02:00:35.

Allen Turner Hyundai

3 March, 2012

Allen Turner Hyundai
6000 Pensacola Blvd
Pensacola, FL 32505

 

SUBJ: 2011 Hyundai Elantra Limited
VIN: KMHDH4AE5BU084402

ATTN: Allen Turner, Owner

Sirs:

On 24 October 2011 I stopped by your dealership to have your service department order replacement floor mats from my Elantra (I’ve enclosed a copy of the service order for your reference, since it appears no one at your dealership is capable of locating any record of it); after waiting over six months for Palmer’s Airport Hyundai to get in the mats I had no tolerance left for their exceedingly poor service-after-the-sale. I left my old mats with the service department, and requested that the new mats simply be left in the plastic bag and was told that that would not be an issue.

That wasn’t the first time I visited your dealership, I’d actually been there twice earlier in the year when I was looking to purchase a new vehicle; to say that I was less than impressed by your sales staff would be the politest way possible to convey my true feelings.

In February I contacted your dealership after over three months of having no status information on my replacement mats, only to be told that Hyundai kept sending the wrong color mats, and that another attempt would be made. You’ll have to ask your staff why they needed to wait for a call from me to “try again” and why they would have waited three months to try and resolve this issue.

Last Tuesday I called to check on the mats and was told that they were in (actually I was told that they had been in, again, you’ll have to check with your staff to determine why I wasn’t advised the mats were in via telephone or a post card).

I told the individual that I would be in on Saturday, he instructed me to go to the parts counter since service wasn’t open. He did not indicate that I would need anything to pick up the mats.

NOTE: Service was in fact open (as I came to find out), of course your web site and the sign on the door said that it wasn’t, and I was berated by one of your staff for going to parts rather than service.

As I had committed in my phone conversation, Saturday 3 March 2012, I arrived at your parts desk, only to discover that while your staff could locate my floor mats, they couldn’t locate any record of the service order, any record of them being a warranty claim (payment status), nor had any instructions been left.

I was told I should have this and that – your entire staff seemed to hold me responsible for the failings of countless individuals along the course of the four months I’d been patiently waiting for these mats to appear.

Then the service adviser on staff injected himself into the situation with a most abrasive and arrogant air. Rather than asking for information, he just started to make assumptions and then asked for my keys to get the VIN and mileage.

After an hour, I found that your staff had elected to put the floor mats into my vehicle (I already had floor mats in my vehicle – I had no need for these to be put in; after all, I had been without the Hyundai floor mats I had purchased with my vehicle for over four months); when I had never asked for that to be done, and in fact on my first visit has specifically requested the mats be left in their packaging. When I pointed this out I was told that my old mats would need to be returned in the packaging and that they would remove the new mats from my vehicle and place them in another bag. I have yet to inspect the new floor mats to see if they are defective; but I assure you I will get around to checking them out much more timely than the replacements were delivered to me.

To say that I was upset at the poor level of service, and the non-existent communication on the part of your staff is a great understatement.

I’ll underscore that the only individual in your entire dealership who ever attempted to express any empathy, remorse, or apologize was the cashier in the parts department (or course, she also displayed the same “you should have…” attitude). No one else at your dealership has in anyway expressed anything other than assessing the “blame” for this entire nightmare on me.

I can assure you that your dealership will never make another penny on my service needs, and that the next time I choose an automobile dealership, it won’t be yours, nor is it likely I’d ever consider another Hyundai.

Sincerely,

Originally posted 2012-03-03 01:00:36.

Google Music

Well that didn’t take long.

I’ve used a little of my time this week to get more of my digital music library together… and now I’m over the limit of Google Music (and I can tell you it doesn’t handle it gracefully).

But it was pretty obvious from the start that managing the Google Music storage wasn’t really going to be easy.

And I haven’t even finished uploading all my music — I haven’t even started on symphonic and Broadway tunes; and I’d guess I was about 70% through my rock/alternative/dance/country collection…

Yes, I could probably eliminate some music that I would probably never listen to; but the whole thing with cloud storage is that it’s supposed to be there when you want it no matter where you are… if I were always going to stay at home, I’d have access to all my music without the effort.

It’s a pretty safe bet that I’ll be using Amazon music storage by the end of the year, and just go ahead and pay them another $20 per year… the advantage to that is that they do support downloading your music — so I can view the $20 as simply a reasonable fee to backup my music off site.

Originally posted 2011-10-19 02:00:00.

Andersen Windows Doors

I decided I wanted a full view storm door for my front door to help reduce the energy loss, and I wanted to buy it this year to take advantage of the Energy Tax Credit… I looked at both Pella (Lowes) and Andersen (Home Depot)… no one in the area carries Peachtree (and I’m not sure they make storm doors).

I liked the Pella, but a couple of the features of the Andersen (screen / glass user interchangeable panel) seemed slightly more appealing.

To say I was disappointed by the perceived quality of the door is an understatement.

Below is a message I posted to Andersen via their web site.

Let me preface this by saying I’ve renovated four homes now; and I’ve always used Peachtree, Pella, or Andersen products in them — and I’ve always been extremely happy with the quality.
When I purchased a storm door for my home in Florida I looked at the Pella product at Lowes as well as the Series 4000 and 3000 at Home Depot; and I elected the Series 3000 since I was price sensitive for resale.
While I cannot complain with the overall appearance of the door I was less than happy with the quality of the construction of the door during the installation — it seemed “cheap” to put it simply.
The way the glass/screen section installs/removes (obviously far superior on the 4000, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t have been happier with the fixed window in the Pella at the same price to avoid the concern in how well the plastic clips are going to hold up in the first hurricane); also I found the door closure mechanism to have too short a throw for the door to open any where near 90 degrees (the travel only allows about 80 degrees).
Additionally, the Home Depot employee informed me that the Kwikset lock set for the door would run around $25 — while I haven’t called either Home Depot to check on a special order or Andersen to confirm the price yet, I just find that price point to be totally ridiculous.
I can’t say I won’t consider Andersen products in the future — but this door doesn’t even slightly resemble the quality I expected (and enjoyed in the past) from Andersen…
The only positive thing I find about the door is the lifetime warranty — something I (unfortunately) expect will be used over and over and over.
I’m sure that disappointing customers isn’t your goal; but I felt it was important to share my experience and my lack of satisfaction.

Andersen Corporation
100 Fourth Avenue North
Bayport, MN 55003-1096

888-888-7020
651-264-5150

http://www.andersenwindows.com/

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

Alzheimer’s and cell phones

This article appears on the Reuters news service (similar articles on the topic are available from a number of other media source)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A study in mice suggests using cellphones may help prevent some of the brain-wasting effects of Alzheimer’s disease, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

After long-term exposure to electromagnetic waves such as those used in cell phones, mice genetically altered to develop Alzheimer’s performed as well on memory and thinking skill tests as healthy mice, the researchers wrote in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The results were a major surprise and open the possibility of developing a noninvasive, drug-free treatment for Alzheimer’s, said lead author Gary Arendash of the University of South Florida.

He said he had expected cell phone exposure to increase the effects of dementia.

“Quite to the contrary, those mice were protected if the cell phone exposure was stared in early adulthood. Or if the cellphone exposure was started after they were already memory- impaired, it reversed that impairment,” Arendash said in a telephone interview.

Arendash’s team exposed the mice to electromagnetic waves equivalent to those emitted by a cellphone pressed against a human head for two hours daily over seven to nine months.

At the end of that time, they found cellphone exposure erased a build-up of beta amyloid, a protein that serves as a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s mice showed improvement and had reversal of their brain pathology, he said.

“It (the electromagnetic wave) prevents the aggregation of that bad protein of the brain,” Arendash said. “The findings are intriguing to us because they open up a whole new field in neuroscience, we believe, which is the long-term effects of electromagnetic fields on memory.”

Arendash said his team was modifying the experiment to see if they could produce faster results and begin testing humans.

Despite decades of research, there are few effective treatments and no cure for Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. Many treatments that have shown promise in mice have had little effect on humans.

More than 35 million people globally will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia in 2010, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

There has been recent controversy about whether electromagnetic waves from cellphones cause brain cancer.

Co-author Chuanhai Cao said the mice study is more evidence that long-term cellphone use is not harmful to the brain.

Groups such as the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society, and the National Institutes of Health, have all concluded that scientific evidence to date does not support any adverse health effects associated with the use of cellphones.

By JoAnne Allen Joanne Allen – Thu Jan 7, 7:39 am ET; Editing by Alan Elsner

I will point out that this is a just study (done on mice), and you need to consider that there may be effects from cell phones that aren’t beneficial.  In addition, one would have to conclude that if you use a headset the radiation effect from the cell phone on your brain would be greatly diminished.

This is not the first time Gary Arendash has had theories on Alzheimer’s published by the news media.

Originally posted 2010-01-13 02:00:32.