Archive for 2010

Scary words from Wendell Potter, health insurance whistle blower.

We are in a period of time when I think this puts our democracy in jeopardy. We are seeing newsrooms having smaller staffs. Mainstream media is diminishing and along with that, investigative reporting is diminishing. So, there are fewer watchdogs, journalism watchdogs, than there used to be. We don’t have a Walter Cronkite anymore. People can self select. They can go to Fox News if they’re conservative and have their world view reinforced, or MSNBC on the other side of the political-ideological spectrum. So you don’t have as much of a middle as you used to. At the same time as you’re seeing newsrooms shrink, you’re seeing corporate power increase. You see a lot of reporters who used to work for newspapers go into PR. I did that several years ago. There are far, far, far more PR in America than there are newspaper reporters or reporters of any kind. So, you’re seeing a shift that troubles me. You’re seeing a rise of corporate power when there are far fewer watchdogs watching over what’s going on. – The Hartford Courant

Wendell Potter was a top PR rep for the Cigna and Humana insurance companies until he realized the error of his ways.

Brought to you by the United Corporations of America: Of the money, by the money, for the money.

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Republicans are Protectionists

Protect the status quot…protect the wealth. That is pretty much the mantra of the real Republican party. They are being challenged on the premise of “core Republican values” by the Teabaggers. From what I can tell the Teabaggers and lock-step Republicans disagree on what those values are.

Teabaggers want to “control fiscal spending” to “reduce the deficit” and claim ending entitlements and lower taxes will achieve this goal. Aside from the Dept. of Education I’ve never heard of another entitlement program they would move to end. Instead their answer is a politically vague end to “government waste”. Then they go on to use some comically undereducated talking points such as running the government like a responsible household budget. I thank a Teabagger’s God my family budget isn’t as complicated as the federal governments.

A real lock-step Republican knows only one thing: protect the wealth. This doesn’t mean tax increases or decreases specifically. It means using any legislative method available to undermine and remove regulations on business and industry, including the banking industry.

Real Republicans like having the fox watch the hen house. Their rallying point is limited government and big business. The argument Americans are having right now is over who they want in charge of the country: the US Government or multinational corporations.

I like to believe that an honest government should incur responsible costs while they work to protect Americans from all threats, including those posed by industries chasing profit at any cost, even if the price is human life. That ideal vision of America may be gone soon if it’s not already. Corporate America has purchased the US political system. If lock-step Republicans take control of the executive and legislative branches the poor will be slaves to the 21st century Robber Barons. The middle class will simply be gone.  So the question Republican, industry supporters need to ask themselves is: can America survive without a middle class?

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RTPinbox.com

I’ve got this domain, rtpinbox.com and I really want to do something with it but I haven’t figured out what.  I was thinking of a technology project blog but don’t know if I have time to post about a lot of things I’m working on.  Web based mail is already available from gmail…. I really don’t have any ideas but open to suggestions.

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NC State Fair Time

It will cost about $50 in advanced ride coupons, $16 in advanced admission tickets and $60 for games and food.  So I’m projecting $126 this year for the NC State Fair.  It will be amazing if that works out.

I think we’re going to catch the CAT bus at the intersection of Six Forks and Wake Forest Rd. and get dropped off at the main gate.  It would probably save on parking.  If not I’m going to try to get into Chuck Booth and Mike Franklin’s lot where Stay-Right Tank company used to be.  I don’t want to pay and walk forever.  If I pay to park I want to be close.

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Pensions are vile.

Pensioner = Entitlement Receiver

Yet astoundingly these older, mostly white men and women who worked in various levels of government tend to back Republicans and even Teabaggers who scream against entitlements with every breath.  Let’s remove the hypocritical pensioners, Medicaid recipients and those receiving unemployment benefits from the ranks of those who support the conservative call to end entitlement programs and see how much support remains.

Pensions are draining this country on every level of municipal, state and federal government.  Even when former elected representatives are convicted of committing fraud against their constituency we continue to shell over their pension money without legal recourse.  The funny thing is that to change this the legislators, elected representatives themselves, must vote to forgo their promise land pension if they commit fraud or a felony.  Another clear case of the fox watching the hen house.  I believe any representative who would vote against such a bill is one who questions his or her ability to remain clean.  It could also be claimed they’re already corrupt and don’t want to lose their pension if caught.

America is grid locked until we give up the pipe dream that legislative officials will police themselves with morality and diligence.  Much the same way we are doomed if we do not remove the misconception that corporations will police themselves in the best interest of consumers over shareholder returns.

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$2.99/mo. hosting at WebFusion

On Sept. 13, 2010 my e-machine web server died after 7 years of service and it was a solid death.  The motherboard fried.  I was real busy and didn’t have time to make an emergency out of getting this site back on-line.  I did my homework for web hosts supporting WordPress, MySQL with phpmyadmin and found webfusion.com.  They provided all the components to host this site for $2.99 per month.  Deal.

Now I don’t have to support a system at home running Apache, MySQL etc.   I created a new WordPress blog at Webfusion, exported my database using phpmyadmin and imported it to the new database at Webfusion.   Then all I had to do was replace the WordPress files via FTP and change a few config files for database locations and passwords.   Hopefully the 99.9% uptime claimed by Webfusion is accurate.   This site has been down a lot because I have servers I’m paid to attend.  I really don’t want to work to keep this site up on a DSL line and 7 year old PC anymore.

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Back on-line…

Whew!  Last month I had a catastrophe befall the server that hosted this site for almost seven years.  I had to recover the data from the hard drive, mount it to a new PC, load MySQL, PHP, phpmyadmin and then export the blog’s MySQL database for import to a Webfusion hosted database.

It was a painfully long recovery made much worse by my being lazy.   I am happier than hell now that this blog is hosted somewhere other than my own machine.  Uptime will no longer be a problem and the kids can destroy and computer they see fit to lay hands on without interrupting my damn blog!

This downtime cost me some serious search engine rankings.  No worries though.  If blogging stops being more than just fun I better be making some serious money off it.

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Will it post in Chrome?

I’m giving Google Chrome another try.  Seems to be some improvements in the last few months.  At least this form is working in WordPress.  We’ll see how this post works out with regards to formatting.

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Why Citrix Systems might Fail

I have been administering Citrix severs for over 16 years.  The first Citrix system I managed was a Winframe server to publish an accounting package for Analytical Surveys Inc. some time around 1995 on a Windows NT 4.0 domain.  Citrix proceeded to be the go to company for remote application deployment.  Ask any Citrix admin what the biggest set back of Citrix has always been and they will all give the same answer: Printing, no doubt about it.

So what did Citrix do to fix these printing issues producing some of the greatest administrative overhead in the history of application deployment?  Almost nothing that made a difference.  They added Universal Print Drivers several years ago, touting them as an end to the printing nightmare.  Since then nothing much has changed.  Big environments tended to move towards third party utilities like Tricerat’s Screw Drivers.  What did Citrix embark on for revenue instead of working on the core problems of it’s primary server components?  They decided to enter the SaaS market and gave us GoToDamnNearAnything.  You know GoToMyPC, GoToAssist, GoToMeeting etc.   Then they decided virtualization was their future and took on competing with VMWare.  When they woke up the Citrix honchos decided they would “compliment” VMWare.  All this while creating enough product name changes to keep veteran Citrix Admins and VAR’s guessing what to buy.  Metaframe became Presentation Server.  Presentation Server became XenApp.  I seem to remember a Novel XenServer and can’t help but wonder where they got such an original branding idea.

So now I’m trying to take a Presentation Server 4.5 farm to XenApp 6.  Nothing is compatible.  Citrix has expanded the services installed with their basic app publication product from seven to about fifteen running services.  The bloat is absolutely astounding.  Starting with a clean Windows 2008 R2 server, from scratch, you would think I would not run into many compatibility issues out of the box.  Not so fast.  First, XenApp6 is not compatible with any previous versions of Citrix server farms.  So a new farm must be created.  Then it’s time to provide access to the old applications from Presentation Server using the new XenApp “Web Interface” component.  Well, it did not run out of the box and provided a nice generic message in the MMC saying the “correct version of Web interface is not installed”.  Never mind it’s the latest version available from the Citrix download site.  Even more fun, it won’t uninstall and doesn’t provide a reason other than “Web Interface setup ended prematurely because of an error”.  Well, at least it was informative.  I’m guessing it’s all based upon some vaguely published IIS 7 requirements.

All this hassle for what???  The answer is almost as bad as the Citrix product line has become.  As of right now Citrix is the only company providing a Windows server based product that will publish individual applications to users with user level security.  Windows Server 2008 Remote Desktop services will now publish individual applications.    The only piece that’s missing is user level security to each app.  That is the sole reason we still have a Citrix component in play on our network.  A $9300 component for 30 users.

Citrix better come up with a stream lined, viable, affordable product quick or like many admins I will work diligently to remove them from the environment for the first time in my career.  Citrix can press on as the GoTo kids.  They are getting hurt in that area as well because of cost.  A product like GoToAssist can be replaced with a less expensive alternative such as Elsinore Technologies Screenconnect for a fraction of the subscription cost.  Also, Citrix has not adapted well the to mobile market space.  They have very convoluted web interface requirements through products like Access Gateway that get so specific Android and iPhones apps struggle to connect until major back end server changes are implemented.

In short, Citrix products have just become too version incompatible and administratively complicated to justify their usefulness in the toolbox.  Add the insane annual Subscription Advantage price structure and I can assure you even the largest enterprises will start looking for alternatives as they become available.  If Microsoft adds user level security for remote applications in any upcoming service pack or server releases it will be a the gut punch that leaves Citrix struggling to get up from the floor.   How certain am I of this future?  CTXS is one long time stock leaving my portfolio.

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The benefits of a 12 hole golf course:

While on the course someone recently said to me “A round of golf has always been 6 holes too long”. I completely agreed as I sweat profusely in the 96 degree North Carolina heat, humidity index not included. By the time the round was done we had spent 4 hours and 25 minutes burning up. This has nothing to do with our rate of play. The speed of a round is generally determined by the group playing ahead of you and how crowded the course is on any given day. Besides speeding up a round there are the other benefits of new courses being designed for 12 holes instead of the traditional 18:

  1. Land use. Many new courses are so expensive to build they have to charge an outrageous greens fee to recoup the investment.  Just look at the new Lonnie Poole course in downtown Raleigh at NC State University.  It’s now struggling to stay alive after just a couple of short years but can’t reduce their fee from $75 a round, not even at student rates.  Reducing some less than profitable courses from 18 to 12 holes would allow the owners to develop or sell the excess land, reducing maintenance costs thereby….
  2. Reducing the greens fees. In a bad economy not many people are attracted to a sport that has historically been sold as one that only the elite and wealthy can participate in.  Shockingly country club memberships are down.  Who’d have thought?  So are the number of players looking for a $55 plus round.  12 holes would reduce the fees and provide the option of walking the course eliminating the cart fee while also providing….
  3. Exercise. I will walk 18 holes.  I won’t walk 18 holes when it’s above 90 degrees outside.  Where I live that’s almost 5 months out of the year.  I would walk 12 in the heat though.  Honestly a round of golf in a cart is for smokers.  It generally provides very little real exercise past your forearms and wrists.  Walking 18 can also take some extra time too.  One of the main reasons I don’t play as often as I would like is….
  4. Time. It’s precious to almost everyone these days.  Even single people.  Add three kids and a wife and any weekend is already a full schedule before I’ve got to be back in the office on Monday.  I usually just don’t have 4-5 hours to justify 18 holes.  Sometimes we’ll just play nine holes but it leaves you kind of wanting a few more tee shots, especially when the course is only taking about $5 off the cost of the greens fee and nothing off the cart fee.  If you’re going to play nine the cart is a waste of time and money.

I wish I had a 12 hole course near me.  I hear the only actual one in existence is located outside of Toronto.  Ya that’s just great, in Canada.  The country almost no US citizen can travel to any more without being strip searched at the border.   No thanks.  I hope some of the US courses in jeopardy will consider closing six holes.   I believe they would see an increase in greens fees and lower maintenance costs providing economic viability.  Maybe even profitability?  I’m not holding my breath though because so many courses are owned by consortium’s of old timers who can’t get past the old idea that a golf course must be 18 holes or it’s just not a course.  The PGA and First Tee could do their part too by supporting 12 hole amateur tournaments if and when the courses become available.

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