Archive for the 'Life' Category

Five things that won’t be around when your kids reach your age.

The more things change, the more Americans try to keep them the same. Usually to our detriment. War stories, tales of the good old days… we love us some nostalgia. Even if it’s broken we won’t fix it unless there’s profit involved. Despite this desire by many to keep antiquated product, systems, and procedures in place there are quite a few things we use every day that are going the way of the beeper despite the resistance. We don’t need them, they don’t make money and our kids won’t have them.

#5 – Car Keys

It’s getting more and more difficult to buy a new car that comes with keys.  Proximity sensor key fobs are here to stay.  I made sure to buy a car that has keys in 2013 because it will likely be the last one I will be able to purchase new that does.  My kids will be driving in their 20′s laughing with their friends about the car keys dad carried.

#4 – CD’s and DVD’s

Redbox better take advantage while they still can because streaming is the future.  Your kids will watch episode 14 of Gilligan’s Island whenever they want to and they will wait less time than it takes a 30 second commercial to run for their programming to begin.

#3 – Land Lines

And for that matter wired internet connections.  My oldest son will be happy to look back at my fights with routers, wireless access points and bridges throughout the house and realize his wireless connection is effortless.  In less than 10 years AT&T will end the era of copper phone lines from the street.  It will all be fiber, VoIP and wireless.

#2 – Newspapers

Yes, they are still sold.  The only reason I know this is because someone leaves a free one in my driveway once a week that gets turned to mush as I drive over it more than four times.  I’ve never opened the little plastic bag it comes in.  Didn’t even read or keep the print edition that contained quotes and excerpts from this blog.  What a waste of paper.  If you still read a newspaper chances are you are checking your blood pressure regularly and considering a Geritol supplement.  It’s over.  Buy a tablet or eReader, let newsprint die and save some trees.

#1 – Checkbooks

Speaking of useless paper.  The UK is scheduled to do away with personal checking for private account holders in 2014.  The U.S. will certainly follow in short order.  They are nothing more than an expense in processing coupled with risk for the banks.  They are nothing short of infuriating for shoppers in a check out line.  It’s time to give up on the nostalgia and the perceived need for checks in the name of personal organization.  Does anyone under 50 actually balance a check book anymore?  I think we still have some checkbooks around.  I’ve literally written two checks out of one book in the last six years.

Of course I could go on… local applications on computers, hard drives, dedicated digital cameras, fax machines, dedicated remote controls…  Most items in the tech sector including some brand new ones like 3D glasses.  However I don’t share some technologists sentiments that movie theaters, performance theaters and other live performance venues will be impacted.  Much like the Beatles had to perform live over 12,000 times before hitting the Ed Sullivan Show, I think (and hope) the music industry is going to make a swing back to live performance as the main source of revenue, not 99 cent downloads.   People are becoming too anti-social and complacent (i.e. boring) thanks to technology and this is not a trend I see future generations outside of the gaming community embracing.

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How do I monitor and protect my kids on the Internet?

I am often asked by friends and co-workers what I do to protect my kids when they are using their computers and the internet.  I decided to document, in Lehman’s terms, how I’ve set up my kids systems so in the future I can direct anyone to this post.  This is an overview of the steps I have taken to make sure the kids in our house, not limited to our own, ages 4-13 can use any computer we allow them access to without worrying about them straying to the Porn Parkway, or the Exploitation Expressway.

1. Only install Linux. This is the primary component of protection.  Not Windows XP, Windows 7 or any other flavor of Microsoft operating system.  Why Linux?  First because Linux is no where near as susceptible to web based viruses and malware as Windows based PC’s.  Second, they do not cost as much as Apples.  It is true the Mac OSx and iOS can provide as much protection as a Linux based PC, but not likely.  Malware is now being targeted at the growing Apple user base, because of the flood of devices, so it won’t be long before Apple devices rival Windows for the volume of malicious content approaching them.  That said, just days ago I was told by a co-worker that my recommending a Mac for his kids was the “best advice” he got last year.  But he had no problem paying $1400 for it.  Linux is free and will run on a $200-300 laptop with ease.  There is more information about Linux distributions at the bottom of this post.

2. Install a keystroke monitor with remote reporting capability. There’s no better way to know what kids are doing on-line than well, knowing exactly what they’re doing and saying on-line, per keystroke.  I prefer logkeys from Google.  Available for download right here on my site.  A good keystroke monitor will allow the service to run in “promiscuous mode”, that’s the term you’re looking for, meaning that it runs in the background secretly without any user awareness.  It should also be able to email report logs secretly so physical access to the PC is not required to monitor the keyboard activity.  Keep in mind one of the big benefits of keystroke logging is that even if the visible contents of a website is not logged, any user ID’s and passwords typed in to gain access to a site are captured.  Isn’t this spying on kids?  Ya.  Is it better than wondering what they’re up to on-line for which you, the parent, may ultimately be liable?  Yep.

3. Use browser based parental controls. Did you know that Firefox has several free parental control browser extensions, such as FoxFilter, that are easy to install and configure?  Do you know how many free browser based parental controls Internet Explorer has built in?  None.  Internet Explorer relies on the Windows operating system parental control settings that are much more difficult to configure and have questionable reliability.  Again, a Windows PC running IE is the most insecure setup you can hand over to a kid.  This is coming from a guy who cleans viruses off of a corporate Vice Presidents laptop routinely.  If adults can’t control their browsing habits and security how much attention do you think kids are paying?  Ya, I know, probably more than the adults.   Forget those subscription based filters like Net Nanny for Windows.  I would only recommend these paid services for those bound to Windows without any alternative.  Save your money, get off Windows, abandon Internet Explorer, protect your kids on-line.  Nothing but winning.

There are many variations of Linux available for free, known as “distributions”.  Not long ago I championed Ubuntu Linux.  When Connor was just 4 years old his first laptop ran Ubuntu so he could play Disney and PBS Kids games on-line.  More recently I prefer Linux Mint due to it’s ease of installation and more friendly graphical interface.  Ubuntu recently incorporated a more unique style of user interface (I’ll spare the technical details) but it is not as familiar as the “windows icon” style of desktop kids would be more comfortable with and accustomed to.  With the exception of the wireless network adapter configuration almost anyone can install a Linux Mint distribution on a Intel or AMD processor based laptop or tower PC.  Another great benefit is free software.  From games to OpenOffice there is a software solution that will keep kids and teachers happy.  As a matter of full disclosure another well known Linux limitation is printer compatibility. It can be a challenge to find driver software that is Linux compatible for many printer models.  It is almost unheard of that a Linux print driver will support all of the features of many multifunction printers.  This is because the printer manufactures target all their internal software development at Microsoft and Apple.  Open source community developers are responsible for most of the free Linux print drivers available today.

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Betting On A Government Shutdown

No, seriously.  I made an on-line bet 3 days ago the government would shut down at midnight tonight.  The divide is just too broad to cross so perhaps the government should shut down.  Just not for the reasons supported by the Tea Party.

We should not bow to ideological, strong arm tactics from either side. If the Republicans want more cuts they can come from sources beholden to them as easily as they can come from Planned Parenthood or Medicare.  Say, defense contracts and oil subsidies. If the Democrats are truly interested in compromise they should be prepared to give up funding for a many of their pet programs as well. The dollar amount cut from one sides program should be given up by a program supported by the other side.

The idea that one side alone is going to get to dictate how much the cuts should be and where they should come from is ludicrous. That is where the Tea Party fails: unwillingness to accept any loss for pet projects on their side or engage in compromise. I may vote for a moderate Republican in some upcoming election. Never a Tea Party candidate. They’ve shown what they’re made of just when we thought Washington couldn’t smell any worse.

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Current Projects

  1. Installing a NetApp FAS2020 filer with an active-active controller configuration.
  2. Migrating recently acquired EDI accounts to Trimaco’s site ID and qualifier.
  3. Procuring a new Dell Latitude for more extensive Windows 7 testing.
  4. Spinning up LUNs on the new SAN to move SQL data on to for testing.
  5. A Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains 10 upgrade.
  6. Upgrading vSync too…
  7. Procuring a new PIX firewall to replace our legacy unit (the sh running config is extensive).
  8. Deploying two laptops to the field (hopefully the last XP units).
  9. Upgrading Label Matrix / Label View.
  10. Remodeling our bathrooms at home.
  11. Kitchen counters maybe?
  12. Nothing else because I can’t handle it in February or March.  I’m booked.
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Knuckle-Cracking Gets (Ig) Nobel Prize | LiveScience

“This year’s winners included Donald Unger, a doctor who received the Medicine Prize for cracking the knuckles of his left hand — but not his right — for sixty years to see if the habit contributes to arthritis (it didn’t).”

via Knuckle-Cracking Gets (Ig) Nobel Prize | LiveScience.

I have a new goal in life:  To win the (Ig) Nobel prize in chemistry.

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Public option would lead him to filibuster, key senator says – CNN.com

“Republicans oppose a public option, saying it would drive private insurers out of the market and eventually lead to a government takeover of the health care system.”

OK.  So where’s the problem?  I trust the government to handle health care benefits far more efficiently and morally than a private business with a profit motive.

via Public option would lead him to filibuster, key senator says – CNN.com.

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Commentary: Joe, Kanye, Serena — aren’t they special? – CNN.com

The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

via Commentary: Joe, Kanye, Serena — aren’t they special? – CNN.com.

“Narcissism is absolutely toxic to society,” Twenge told me when I interviewed her about her book a few months ago. “When faced with common resources, narcissists take more for themselves and they leave less for others.”

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Angry Health Reform People

Did Republicans forget that they lost an election in part because John McCain came across as an angry old man?  And remember the rowdy old people who stood up screaming about socialism at the McCain campaign rallies?  It seems the only thing that whines harder than my two year old is a Republican that isn’t getting it’s way.

Last night on ABC News 11 I listened to a  man, who didn’t get to scream and chant at representative Brad Miller about the health reform bills, tell an interviewer “I don’t want to have my family treated by the V.A.”.  What?

Are these people serious?  Are they really that dumb or are they trying to be sarcastic?  Based on this guys enunciation and dress code I was left with no alternative but to think he’s serious.  What’s going to happen when the very Latino’s these rednecks are trying to run out of the country start looking more intellectual than the very best the hard right can put forward?  Your “other brother Daryl” doesn’t count.

If you watch these town hall rants on health care you will see an clear demographic in attendance: middle aged and old white people who are clearly angry by their own admission.  They seem to be getting madder.  On a Democratic radar that sign means it’s working and this must be the right thing to do.  Nothing says success to a Democratic legislator like a madder than hell conservative.  Against their own best interests conservatives have cornered the market on disgruntled lately.

Instead of getting mad why don’t they come up with some valid counter points and arguments.  They only thing they have is “government sucks” and “lower taxes”.  Care to add any meaningful content to the conversation aside from “don’t change anything”?  One thing they have stated is that the cost of health care services are too high.  Very true.  And here’s why their only valid point is counter productive:

The very minute any legislator, Democrat or Republican, tries to regulate the prices of drugs and health care services through cost controls, the same conservatives using price as their argument will call for the government to stay out of the free market. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t so just be damned they say.

Even the VP of Economics for the conservative Heritage Foundation has noted that health reform must be enacted.  He’s “not sure” about a public option.  Paul Krugman tried to explain it to him:  Without a public option, including a mandate for all Americans to have coverage, a bill would only serve as a windfall for insurance companies.  The idea that a mandate will reduce indigent costs, thereby reducing provider costs resulting in health care savings is simply a dumb-ass pipe dream. The insurance companies will simply add the new revenue to their record profit reports for many years to come. Once again for the slow readers: The mandate is the reason the public option is absolutely necessary.

If you want to take the public option out you’ve got to take the mandate out.  I endorse taking the mandate out no matter what happens to the public option.  No one should be forced into an untested system.  Especially one that’s built on an already broken system.  Massachusetts did it under the guidance of Sir Ass Hat, Mitt Romney, and I wrote about it here on July 4th two years ago.  Now it’s contributing to their states bankruptcy.  Did costs go down?  Hell no.  I have no choice but to think that  the Mass. legislators were led by insurance companies into the law they passed.  The federal legislators should not make the same mistake.

Health insurance companies will lobby for the mandate without a public competitive option.  If they get their way America’s ultimate destitution will be forthcoming at a highly accelerated rate.

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Word is the Executive Staffing Group can’t make payroll.

This morning I learned from a few readers, who are Executive Staffing Group employees, that the Clifton and Savage operation have issued some payroll checks that bounced.  Apparently they also issued a notice to all employees that all direct deposits would cease immediately.  So does this mean that ESG employees should only expect to receive bad checks?

If this is true it’s a bad situation.  The Department of Labor or Insurance could step in a shut down ESG but where does that leave ESG’s contracted employees or the ESG clients they’re working for.   At the time any possible connections between ESG and the Castleton Group were made by investigators all efforts should have been made to shut down ESG before anyone else got hurt.  I personally believe the only reason this was not done was pure greed and arrogance on the part of the Savages and Clifton.   It gives the appearance they wanted to try to maintain some level of prominence and lifestyle in the face of personal bankruptcies and investigations.  They will argue they were trying to keep people employed in a down economy.  But what service are you doing to keep people employed when you can’t pay them?

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Health Care Reform

Health care reform is in the spotlight again.  No matter what  compromised bill comes out of Congress one thing is certain: As long as health care remains a for profit venture in America it will remain a broken system.  No corporation should measure profits or shareholder returns by wagering on, or attending to, peoples health and well being.  Anyone who disagrees is most certainly too barbaric and immoral at their core to recognize the heartlessness of their position.

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