Whorled View

January 2, 2009

New Years Resolution tickler.

Filed under: Communications,Health,Lifestyles,Miscellaneous,Sociology,Technology — lullabyman @ 10:40 pm

How do you keep a goal forefront in your mind so you’re always motivated to work on it?  I’ve tried all kinds of things in the past … as I’m sure most people have.  Quotes and reminders seem great, but they eventually seem to become lost in the noise and get ignored.  I also don’t like parading my goals around for everyone to see – goals are personal.  The idea should rather be to keep goals where they’re most visible to the goal-setter and not to everyone else … and to make it move, shake, or shimmy around and continually remind the goal-setter of the vision that motivates them.

So this last year I came up with something that does that.  It’s a little program that scrolls through a list of text and images that motivate me to achieve my goals.  It automatically boots up and sits on top of all other programs in the top of my computer where the title-bar usually goes (it can also be dragged around my desktop).  It also flashes at various times of the day to remind me to work on certain things.  It also gauges how much time I  have left in the day (starts out green, turns peach).  Below is a screenshot.

tickler
If anyone else is interested let me know.  I’ve been thinking about making a version where the content can be added on the fly (currently I have to recompile it with each change).

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November 3, 2008

Go ahead & insult me: Tell me to vote.

Do you go around telling your friend to take a leak or they might wet their pants?  Do you go around telling people to remember to breathe in case they might accidentally suffocate?

You don’t?  Well then please don’t tell me to vote.

Just because you auctioned off your grey matter doesn’t give them the right to sequester your vote.

As for me, and those of us who don’t have to be told to vote … we’ll make an educated decision.

I know it’s well intended, and honestly, I’ve been told to vote by some of the most wonderful, intelligent, and savvy people I know. In fact I know of no stupid people who are reminding me to vote. I also know I should take their encouragement as a compliment … obviously they think I’m going to make a wise choice or they would not want me to vote.

But I just can’t help but think that if you need to be told to vote then you don’t have a clue enough to make a wise decision who should run your government.  It’s just simple math.  Person needs convincing = can’t think for themselves = bad votes = bad results.

We might as well choose our officials with a random number generator.  That’s not democracy.  In fact, letting the most impressionable intellectual-push-overs determine election outcomes results in a huge bias toward the opinions of popular media.

So here’s my advice: stay home if you sup entirely from the boob tube and decided to vote because an actor or actress will insult you if you don’t.  If that’s the kool-aid that you drink then chances are I know who you’re voting for, and believe me … you don’t want to throw your vote away on someone of whom you really know very little.  If you’re letting someone do the thinking for you stay home.  Just because you auctioned off your grey matter doesn’t give them the right to sequester your vote.  Give them what they deserve: nothing.  Stay home.

As for me, and those of us who don’t have to be told to vote … we’ll make an educated decision.

Or, you can stop drinking the Koolaid and make an intelligent choice, but if you have to be told to vote I’m guessing there’s not enough time for you to do that.  It’s not too late though.  Start here: http://www.google.com/search?q=msm+kool+aid

October 30, 2008

Proposition 8 … LGBT forced the hand.

I was nearly 30 when I first married, and it was not for lack of trying or lack of desire.  I had in fact been engaged previously to someone else 7 years earlier but I’m convinced now that the earlier endeavor would have resulted in a difficult marriage.   I had forced the engagement thinking that marriage would make me happy, make her happy, make us happy, and generally make everything peachy-keen.  But I would have been wrong.  Getting married that time would have been a needy response to  a long distance relationship that was generally a bad idea from the start.

Marriage never fixes anything on it’s own.  If you’re not already happy being together even when times are tough and when your differences (everyone has differences) are painfully obvious then getting married isn’t going to help at all.  In fact it may make things worse.

Marriage is, above all, a sacrament, introduced by God and ordained of God, no matter what your religion is, or regardless of who you call God … It is in so many ways the most symbolic representation of our relationship with our Creator.

So fortunately I spent another 7 years finding the right kind of person and to have done it at the right time of my life.  I now see in retrospect that it had to be that way, and I’m grateful that I met Melissa when I did … no earlier, no later.

One other thing had to happen too though … I had to know that God wanted it.  At the time I didn’t know how important that was, and neither was I seeking for “His” approval but in retrospect it was necessary in my case.

Seven years later, the second time I was engaged … this time, the right time … things were completely different.  I felt different.  I was different.  The girl was different.  The relationship was dramatically different.  Instead of a needy dependency for nurturing there was a calm assurance of deep respect and mutual appreciation.

as Americans … we believe in marriage … precisely because it is a religious institution.

In fact, it will probably surprise you that despite getting engaged on our 3rd encounter it was not love at first sight … nor was there great passion right away, neither did we even deeply love each other when we got engaged on our second date.  What’s more, I’d venture to say that both of us had preexisting relationships that were still at the time very heartfelt, but very quickly we learned something that made all that moot which I suspect few people probably learn when they make that choice:

God wanted it.

Thomas Jefferson’s “separation of Church and State” was never intended to mean a separation for God and State. Historically you’ll find that our founders believed our country had everything to do with “Divine Providence”.

Far be it from me to tell you what the spirit feels like.  I think that, like most people, throughout my life I’ve largely been guided by instincts, wisdom, and my heart (love, peace, joy, charity, hope, faith, etc).  Those things are wonderful and essential to a happy fulfilling life but for me feeling the spirit itself is an entirely different experience than all those things, and I can no more describe to you my spiritual experiences than describe the taste of salt to someone who’s never had anything salty.  Only a few times have I deeply felt it, and then only briefly for only a moment or two.  One experience stands out though.  The day after our 2nd encounter … it lasted for nearly 8 hours non-stop.  I remember going home for lunch that day wondering how much longer I could take it as it was so intense and constant.

While the experience was sweet … like honey is sweet (if you could taste the spirit it would be sweet exactly like honey), I was simultaneously overjoyed and a little upset and anxious.  I was upset and anxious because I knew what God was telling me and yet I had no idea whether Melissa was having any kind of the same experience.  What was I to say to her … “I know you don’t know me … and being nearly 30 I probably sound desperate enough to come up with something crazy like this … but God told me we’re supposed to get married.”

That would have gone over like a lead balloon, or so I’d supposed.  I was wrong, and we were engaged on our next date.

Truth be told, I did not say that … but I didn’t have to either.  We were married 3 months later and have been insanely happy with each other with a love that can only grow so quickly and immensely when two people are … well, to get real sappy … meant for each other.

the LGBT community is intent on removing all sacredness and turning it into a social tool to command respect in a way that would trample religious ideals.

Now this sounds like a really long winded way to get around to what this post was intended to discuss: Proposition 8, and why the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transexual) community forced the hand that put that proposition into motion, but everything I mentioned has everything to do with that topic.

Marriage is, above all, a sacrament, introduced by God and ordained of God, no matter what your religion is, or regardless of who you call God.  It is in so many ways the most symbolic representation of our relationship with our Creator.  There are sacraments in marriage, throughout marriage, and throughout each day in one’s marriage, that are all symbolic of our relationship with God.

Admittedly, I don’t think everyone should expect to have the courtship Melissa and I did, nor do I think it makes us or our marriage any “better”, but I do think there’s a synergy that exists when marriage is intertwined with the divine and I’m grateful ours started out that way.  Similarly marriage has demanded a greater reliance on God from me, and it seems obvious to me that my spiritual growth is and will continue to be accelerated through close association with my wife (even if I sometimes fail to take advantage of doing so).

[Government sanctioned traditional marriage] IS proof that we do not have a Godless state

Overwhelmingly we, the Americans, are a God-fearing people.  Unusually so, and surprisingly so since we are just a melting pot, an amalgamation of the refugees from all the other countries.  But with good reason are we so God-fearing.  Our country was largely founded by those who were deeply religious, and even today many of the refugees who come here do so so they can practice their beliefs in a free country.

In short, believing in God is part of our identity as Americans.  We believe in marriage, not because it’s a social institution, but precisely because it is a religious institution.

Similarly, nowhere in the constitution or any of the amending articles, is God excluded, and certainly not with respect to marriage either.  While respecting no particular religion, our leaders have always been God fearing people.

Cry foul if you want, Bill Maher, but those are the historical facts, and they are as true today as they were then.  You don’t like it, then move to Russia or China where the mention of God is still taboo.

Each member of [the LGBT] community needs to be loved and appreciated the same way [as are] straight people

Nowhere is the respect and reverence for God more evident in our federal documents and laws where the right to marry not only exists but is encouraged.  The reverence for God has nothing to do with “Church” lest others complain I’m promoting a theocracy or the favoring of one religion over another.  Thomas Jefferson’s “separation of Church and State” was never intended to mean a separation for God and State.  Historically you’ll find that our founders believed our country had everything to do with “Divine Providence”.  Our constitution was founded upon the idea that our inalienable rights exist only because God gave them to us.

We are only created equal because God is no respecter of persons (not because we can marry whomever we find cute or sexually stimulating).

Now the LGBT community wants to take that sacrament: marriage, and turn it into a self-serving political tool to forward their agenda.  Marriage is NOT a tool.  It IS a sacrament.  It IS proof that we do not have a Godless state like Russia, or China, or the Scandinavian countries who’ve seemed happy to rid themselves of the “outdated” institution of marriage.

[Proposition 8] does NOT mean people in the LGBT are any less equal, nor does it mean we think any less of them

Marriage will never be a purely social or political tool, although it’s often used for social and/or political reasons.  I’ve read many treatments on this topic and they’re all wrong, incorrectly stating that historically it was designed to be a tool to be used for social reasons so we should use it now to include the LGBT community.  It was not created for that purpose.  Rather marriage has historically been a religious institution first, often manipulated for social or political purposes.

That said, I want to be clear in my opinion that people in the LGBT community are no different than straight people with regards to their value to society – you may disagree with me, and that’s okay.  I think gays and lesbians have been poorly treated although it seems that they do tend to play the martyr (even now they’d claim I’m being condescending when I’m really sincere).  Each member of that community needs to be loved and appreciated the same way that straight people are, but unfortunately no amount of love will prevent their community from operating with a selfish mob-mentality insistent on destroying the sacred nature of marriage.

marriage must be government sanctioned, and must be the only sacrament sanctioned by a government

That is why Proposition 8 is necessary.  It does NOT mean people in the LGBT are any less equal, nor does it mean we think any less of them.  It’s only because marriage is the most universally sacred institution throughout all the world … it is the great common sacrament among all civilizations and religions … and the LGBT community is intent on removing all sacredness and turning it into a social tool to command respect and trample religious ideals.  Marriage is intrinsically a sacrament in nearly every sense of the word, and it is and always must be the only sacrament sanctioned by a government that was originally founded on Godly principles entirely by God-fearing men who never wanted our government to become an atheist entity.

July 14, 2008

9 Troops Killed – How many soldiers is that?!

Check out the definition of a Troop:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/troop

Notice something strange?  With 14 possible definitions, every single definition indicates that a troop is more than one person.  So how many people died when 9 troops are killed?  Well, let see if the minimum for a troop is 2 soldiers (and more likely 4 to 50), then with 9 troops killed that’s at least 18 soldiers, or more likely 36 to 450 soldiers … right?

WRONG.

Apparently when you’re the one who gets to create the news you can redefine words at your whim and fancy to mislead, confuse, and persuade.  In this case, whenever the mainstream media talks about “troops” being killed, it seems that according to the media a troop is one soldier.  That’s right.  One soldier.  So apparently if you’re in the news corp you can refer to Private Smith as Troop Smith (kind of like Trooper Smith except that “Trooper” sounds like only one person, and that’s not really what the media is going for).  Now, Troop Smith, is in my meager understanding a Troop of multiple Smiths, but then I’m just a regular guy who just reads dictionaries.  What do I know?  I’m not the all-knowing media.

Also when you own the media you’re allowed to ignore existing and more suitable words that the ones you redefine or make up, especially if they don’t serve your purpose.  You can, for example, ignore the word “Soldier” which, like “Trooper”, sounds like only one person.  That’s not good if you want 9 Soldiers to sound like even more than what they already are.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong – but 9 soldier deaths (as horrible as they are), is mathematically far far less than 18 soldier deaths , or (what fits the definition more closely) anywhere from 36 to 450 soldier deaths, which has a lot of shock value.

Just something to think about next time you read X-many troops killed.  Don’t be fooled by the mainstream media.  Instead, just get out your dictionary and a pen and write in there after definition number 14:

15) troop – what the msm likes to call one soldier when they want the number to sound really large.

May 29, 2008

Reconnecting with kids after divorce

As a family we’ve been reading “7 Habits of Highly Effective Families“, and lately we’ve been reading about the unique challenges divorced parents have.  No matter who you are or what you’ve done, my heart goes out to you if you are having a difficult time reconnecting with your children.  As mentioned in the book we’re reading that’s perhaps the most difficult challenges you’ve had to face.

In my family I know that’s been the case.  I’m not divorced, but like everyone I have many friends and family members who have been.  We’ve made some real effort as children, all of us have, since my parents divorced a dozen years ago, to get over feelings of resentment and betrayal.  Our parents have made some real efforts to try and reconnect with us kids to mend those ties as well.

Although you may be divorced I must point out that there is a good chance that this entry doesn’t apply to your situation.

With that in mind, let me also say that I know that regardless of the circumstances divorce is devastating and few people deserve the pain of a divorce, and yet almost half of all Americans will experience that pain.  Besides, many of you if not most (at least most feel this way) endured a terrible relationship for the longest time before you were divorced.

Also, many of you, after many years of the divorce are still beating yourself up over it.  Stop doing that.  I’m certainly not doing that with this blog entry.  You need to forgive yourself if you think you need forgiving, and you need to forgive your ex because if you have spite it is just gnawing at your soul and rotting in your gut in a way that just hurts you in the long run.

My main intent is in this entry is to help those of you who are challenged by the idea that even after many years some children still haven’t forgiven you.  Many of you feel that they have no right to be angry because of the divorce.  If you feel this way then you are probably already doing all the wrong things to reconnect with your kids, even though you think you’re doing the right things.  I strongly suggest that you can start the path to reconnecting with your kids if you read the book “7 Habits for Highly Effective Families“.  If you want your kids to “get over it”, then this book will help you help them get on that path.

It will make you feel better, largely because it will help you understand and get you on that path to reconciliation.  It’s also just an amazing book for anyone and everyone – and, no, it isn’t for perfect families … quite the opposite.  It’s written for you, and for me, and for everybody regardless whether they’re married or have kids or not.  Everyone is after-all a family member no matter what, and although each family is vastly different we all deal with the same kinds of issues even if they are at different levels.

If you’ve made some real efforts to reconnect with your children then that’s wonderful and I applaud such efforts, and as a child of divorced parents I hope you continue doing that (but make sure you’re doing the right things).  Especially if it doesn’t seem to be working, find out what might work, and keep working at it.  Sometimes it may feel like it isn’t working, but in truth you’re making deposits into an emotional bank account that was probably far more withdrawn than you may have ever thought, but in time you will find those deposits were worth it if you don’t give up.

As a family today we read something from that book that was profound and especially applicable to this topic: “I’ve come to give a simple four-word answer; ‘Make, and keep promises’ … I’m convinced you would be hard-pressed to come up with a deposit that has more impact in the family than making and keeping promises … the promises we make in the family are the most vital and often the most tender promises of all … Even when promises have been broken in the past, you can still [say]: ‘Will you please give me one more opportunity? Not only will I come through, I will come through in gangbuster style.’ … Dealing with a difficult problem, and a mistake in an honorable way, [makes] a massive deposit in [thier] emotional bank account.”

I know that works with me.  “Make, and keep promises”, is one of the best formulas for success in life, and especially for mending ties that were damaged by broken promises. But you have to both “Make” and “keep” a promise that they’d appreciate.  That may even mean they may want you to promise to leave them alone for a time – now you must promise to honor that wish, and you have to keep it, no matter how much it hurts you.  Don’t promise something they don’t want, and don’t break the promise whatever it is.  Lastly, you also have to expect nothing in return (that’s discussed later in the book) or it will only eat you up inside, in which case it may do the same to them.

Hey, nobody said it would be easy, but these efforts are worth it.

May 1, 2008

Free Enterprise Gone Badly Awry

Filed under: finance,Lifestyles,Miscellaneous,Sociology,Technology — lullabyman @ 7:53 pm
Tags:

What in the name of all that is holy …

Why is that baby (is it human?) in a cage in the middle of the bed? And what happened to that baby’s legs and why does it’s face appear violently smashed flat by a steam roller? Notice how the caged baby is strategically placed between both parents so they can take both nuzzle up to the cold hard steel bars encasing their baby while simultaneously keeping the other parent at bay. And what’s with the evil smirk on the father’s face, I mean … is he facing the other direction as to not reveal to his blissfully clueless wife that this clever scheme was just a sick way to dupe her for some previous mishap? Then you have the mother … lovingly caressing the cage that’s pinning down their poor psychologically doomed infant. My friends, this is free enterprise gone badly awry.

Actually on paper this contraption must have sounded good … good enough that the artist-inventor (I can’t imagine anyone other than the inventor drew the picture … unless it was their 7 yr old) paid THOUSANDS of dollars to get it patented. The intent of the invention (let’s call it “the baby cage”) was to reduce the risk of SIDS. At least that’s what I gathered from it’s description at www.totallyabsurd.com … a website that mocks absurd patents like this one. It was probably invented by a traumatized parent who’s child died of SIDS, who now unfortunately thinks the answer is to put you baby in some cage on your bed, instead of a well designed crib. Never mind that all the doctors say that your mattress and padding is too soft and will increase the risk SIDS. Never mind that all research indicates the children raised in impersonal environments (read: cage) have an increased risk of SIDS. Never mind that your child’s first memories will be of being pinned down with steel bars, preparing them for a life of looking from behind similar looking bars.

While I hope I’d have the sense to never invent something like the above, I am ever increasingly aware how non-representative I am of the general public (which by the way fills me with a great sense of pride). Unfortunately I must also accept that being breathtakingly more intelligent than just about anyone else also qualifies me to come up with wonderful ideas that nobody else would get – and so my inventions simply wouldn’t sell as they’d likely be well “before their time”.

That’s why you do market analysis, people, no matter how intelligent or creative you are. All the baby-cage inventor would have needed to do is ask a dozen people at random what they thought, and they would have saved themselves a lot of money. Unfortunately I’m sure this person only asked his friends who responded with comments like: “Interesting” or “Wow. That’s creative.” or “You think of the most amazing things.” … all comments which the inventor surely took to be compliments and evidence that they’d be a complete idiot to not patent this infant-death-trap.

So I’ve compiled a list of what people fail to do before making it into the innovative hall of shame:

Rule #1) When you ask people about your idea, ask lots of complete strangers for their opinion, instead of asking your freinds. If I hate the idea I’ll lie to you. At least if you’re my friend that’s what I’ll do. Sorry. Yes, I’m a wus. It’s just that once I made the mistake of honestly answering my boss once when he asked about his design for a million-dollar machine. Two things happened: 1) He went ahead and used his design despite my criticism, which cost 10X more than expected, never worked, and eventually drove the company into bankruptcy, and 2) he never asked my opinion about anything else. Ever. That’s a true story.

Rule #2) Don’t be so paranoid. There are two kinds of inventors: 1) those with 1000’s of ideas, and they’ll share them freely while pursuing them … like Ben Franklin did, or like Thomas Edison did, and 2) those with maybe three ideas total in their little self-absorbed mind, and they guard these ideas with their lives. Sorry to break this to you, but if you’re of the second group your inventions suck. That’s just how it works out … less than 1/10th of 1% of inventions have any hope, and out of the other 99.9% there are many awesome ideas that didn’t sell for one of a million different reasons. If you aren’t producing 100’s of good ideas all the time, it’s doubtful that you’ll ever produce a winner.

Besides, if your idea was so great and unknown chances are it needs tons of development before it gets patented and nobody is willing to do that work except for you. Usually. Yes, there are stories, and they’re true, of multinational conglomerates stealing inventors ideas … but creative independent people will almost never steal another persons novel idea because they are so invested in their own ideas. And uncreative people are too stupid to know what to do with a great idea. So loosen up … and share your idea. Preferably you would share it with a potential partner who is interested in forming profitable and long-term relationships with unusually creative practical and intelligent people. I suggest http://www.evergreenip.com/. No, I’m not associated with them, but my Uncle, a lifelong inventor, works with them and they’re doing a number of his inventions.

Rule #3) Chill out. By this I mean write it down and forget about it. Go to a nice park. Walk around the park. Get involved in life. Again, forget about the idea. Then come back and look at the idea with fresh eyes. I’m sure had the infant-death-trap inventor had done this they’d have privately cringed in shame instead of publicly doing so. You know … once it’s in the patent database it’s there forever. You can’t remove it. It’s out there for all posterity to see and respond, “Gee what was that guy smoking?!” (which is a tad bit less encouraging than “Wow, you have quite an imagination”). Unfortunately inventors tend to think that great ideas grow on trees enough that if they don’t do something immediately someone will beat them to the punch. That’s not true. Take the iPod. There were MP3 players, many which were nearly as good, years before the iPod. Being first isn’t necessarily best. It’s being best that’s best.

Rule #4) Find out if a patent is the right thing. According to Newsweek “patents are usually worth less than the paper they are printed on”. This is because they’re either unnecessary, invalid, or just very weak.

Rule #5) Be prepared to spend a TON of money to do it right. DON’T DO IT YOURSELF, AND BE CAREFUL WHO YOU HAVE DO IT. Most patents are worthless because they were written poorly and are either too non-specific to have any valid claims or are so specific that they can easily be rendered useless.

Rule #6) Remember that protecting patents are 100X more expensive than acquiring them. Be prepared to pay this price, or at least give the patent the professional appearance that you are able to pay this price. THERE ARE NO PATENT POLICE. You are your own Patent police. Companies do the math … and if you look like some joe-nobody inventor they’ll calculate it’s worth walking all over you. This is one of the reasons you don’t want to do it yourself – to scare away unscrupulous corporations. Be prepared to fight multi-national corporations with bottomless pockets even if your patent is unbelievably well written. Often it’s worth it to them to drag it out as long as possible until you have less than nothing left.

Rule #7) Do a thorough search before spending too much time on it. I’ve made this mistake to find out someone already had a very thorough patent on an idea of mine. It was a CD case storage that doubled as a universal remote-controller for any mega-CD-player, so when you pressed on the CD case the CD would play. I’d spent hours making mockups and putting the idea online. It was already patented, and the patent holder was just sitting on it. I could have spent that time walking in the park and getting involved in life instead of wasting it on something that was already patented.

Gee … now don’t you have some warm feelings about just what a free enterprise we live in? Don’t get bummed. Keep thinking … and eventually one of those 1000 ideas of yours will be a home run.

August 29, 2007

Gateway Computer Doesn’t Honor Their Warranties

Filed under: Communications,computers,Corruption,Miscellaneous,Sociology,Technology — lullabyman @ 11:15 pm

What would you do if you reported a defect on your laptop before the warranty was expired, and they said, “We’ll replace it as soon as we get one in inventory”, then they never sent it. When you called to ask where it was, they say “Too late. It’s not in warranty anymore.”

Because that’s what happened to me. Check it out… this is the log from our chat … and pay close attention to how they tried to pin the blame on me (start at the bolded portion):

Adam_GWER1387 joined the incident.
Adam_GWER1387 says:
Thank you for contacting technical support. My name and badge number are Adam_GWER1387. Please hold while I review your issue.
david austin says:
Okay
[skip all the introduction here]Adam_GWER1387 says:
I understand that your stylus has never worked in your computer, is that correct?
david austin says:
correct.

Adam_GWER1387 says:
Please wait while I research on your issue?
david austin says:
Yes, I would expect some information from my previous requests to resolve this issue (where I was told a replacement would be arriving).
Adam_GWER1387 says:
Actually, there is no replacement request in your database, David. If you want I can request for a replacement for your stylus now. Would that be okay with you?
david austin says:
Yes, that would be great. My last request happened over the phone. I guess I’ll know better now. He said there were none in inventory, but one would be sent as soon as the inventory was replenished.
Adam_GWER1387 says:
I will first check if the stylus is in the inventory.
david austin says:
thanks
Adam_GWER1387 says:
Please wait while I check the stylus
david austin says:
okay
Adam_GWER1387 says:
Thanks for waiting.
david austin says:
sure
Adam_GWER1387 says:
You said that you purchased the computer in March of 2007, is that correct?
david austin says:
yes, that’s correct. And the pen wasn’t working form the start.
Adam_GWER1387 says:
When did you call Gateway about this issue?
david austin says:
It would have been sometime in may
Adam_GWER1387 says:
IT shows here that your first call was on June 8 of 2007.
david austin says:
That’s it. I was in a tradeshow lat may and anothe early june. it was in that time period.
Adam_GWER1387 says:
Just to let you know that you only have a 90 days warranty of your computer. Since you called on the first week of June, your warranty had already expired. That is why the agent cannot replace your stylus pen. If you call a little bit earlier like around April, we had the change to replace it.
david austin says:
I don’t think that’s 90 dys. Let’s do the math. All month April, all May, that’s only 62 days max. Add 10 days for March that’s 72, add 8 for June,
that’s 80 days. Still under warranty.
david austin says:
So if I was still under warranty why wasn’t it sent?
Adam_GWER1387 says:
I really dont know why they did not issue the replacement of your stylus pen.
Adam_GWER1387 says:
Because today, i really cannot make a request for your replacement because you are already out of warranty. If you want you can try to call to the person you contacted to in order that they can escalate your issue.
david austin says:
Does it show what my call was about? Isn’t that proof enough. This guy does as many calls as you do, he’s not going to remember it.. Would You? I wouldn’t. I took it on good faith that you guys would keep your word. Is this how you run things there?
Adam_GWER1387 says:
If I have the power to make your computer back in warranty, I would do it. But I really cannot make a request here in your database for the replacementof your stylus. Why only now that you have contacted here when it was way over a month when the tech told you to call again if there is no replacement. Usually a replacement would only last for 5-7 business days.
david austin says:
What are you saying? It’s my fault that your tech did not keep his word? Within 7 days I would have been out of warranty anyway and we would be where we are now. Besides, it wasn’t in inventory, I would have had to wait much longer. Your man screwed up and you’re trying to stick me with a $50 replacement bill, when I reported it while under warranty.
david austin says:
What’s right abut that?
Adam_GWER1387 says:
Why did you contact us earlier? Adding the 7 business would only be June 15 which is 2 days before your warranty expired. Why did you have to make it to this month to contact us. I really cannot make a request forthe replacement of the stylus pen, David. It says here that you are already out of 90 days warranty.
david austin says:
Re-contacting you within the warranty period is not my job. Warranties for reported items do not go null and void when it isn’t shipped. Any judge will substantiate that in court. The issue is NOT when I RE-contacted you. Never will be, and any attorney will back that up. I reported it WHILE under warranty, if you do not honor that you are violating the terms of that warranty. Would you like to disagree because I’m recording this.

david austin says:
Incidentally, it was NOT in inventory, it would have not taken 7 days (which I said earlier). According to the person I talked with it would take some time to get back into inventory.
david austin says:
Hello?
david austin says:
I’m starting to think that the guy I talked to was trying to pull a fast one on me so you could try to violate the warranty contract as you are currently attempting to do. I wonder if it was really not in inventory.
[ … this went on for 1 hour and 52 minutes- during which time I talked with “Joseph”, Adam’s supervisor, who also tried to insinuate that I didn’t deserve the pen replacement due to the fact that I didn’t call a second time to follow up on the shipment before the warranty expired]
He then said:please contact our Retail Service Dispatch team for further assistance regarding your replacement part. Unfortunately, we can longer issue a replacement since you are already out-of-warranty regardless when you reported this matter. The toll free number is (1-877-285-6043).

I was “out of warranty” when I reported this matter!? What planet is this guy living on? I reported the matter (broken pen) WHILE it was under warranty. If they choose to not ship it within the warranty period they think they have effectively made the warranty null and void?! Apparently so.

Don’t think this is about a lousy $50. It’s about justice, and about Gateway doing what’s honest and true by honoring their warranties. I’m sure I’m not the first to suffer this injustice. Buyer Beware!!!! I’ll follow up with the “retail Service Dispatch” team (whatever, sounds like code for the “waste-your-time-until-we-think-you’ll-give-up team”), and let you know how it turns out.

July 26, 2007

My God vs. Your God

Today I was hopelessly searching for a decent radio station to listen to in the garage, and in the process happened upon a “Christian music” station where they were singing some song about how great their God was. It wasn’t about “God” in general, or “the” God, but they consistently used the term “my God” with as much or more gusto on the word “my” as they did on the word “God”. I then thought – if you believe in only one God why even mention “my”, or “our”? The phrase “my God” implies that there is more than one God (my God vs. someone else’s God). That’s an oxymoron if you’re a monotheist (someone who believes in only one God).

“The obvious problem with this claim, of course, is that these people who are comparing Gods also claim to be monotheistic.”

[added 7/27: I actually don’t really have so much a problem with “my God” or “our God”, because I think people generally mean that they’ve chosen to be subject to God. In fact, “How Great Thou Art” is one of my favorite songs, as are others which frequently use this terminology to denote subservience and dedication. It seem however that not everyone uses those phrases with that intended meaning.].

I’ve also heard from many (but not all) religious people claim that their God is better than another person’s God. As a Mormon person I frequently hear this directed toward me from mainstream Christians. I’ve always responded that we worship the same God, although we understand the physical/spiritual nature of the Godhead to be different from their concept. To which they usually respond vehemently that no way is our God the same being as their God. The obvious problem with this claim, of course, is that these people who are comparing Gods also claim to be monotheistic.

The only logical rationale I can imagine for this implicit contradiction is that they consider “God” to be a concept rather than an actual being. I don’t think that is what they’re doing though since they, like me, claim that God lives, not that He’s just some kind of philosophical construct to make people feel better. So I must conclude that they’re just trained to insist that different religions believe in different Gods even though they’re monotheists, and they don’t care that what they’re saying makes no sense.

“…most of the problems in the middle east have their roots in the irrational My God vs. Your God mentality, instead of promoting the fact that we all worship the same God differently and simply have different ideas about Him.”

If one is literally referring to God with the intent to compare religions the best thing they can say is “our understanding of the nature of His being and power are different”. Of course, the implied meaning is “You’re wrong about God’s nature and power, and I’m right”, but at least it’s plainly understood that there is only one God.

From time to time I’ve heard the interesting accusation (from people of all religions, including my own) that certain people “don’t worship the true God” or variations on that theme. Although this seems very offensive, I don’t think it is as dangerous as pitting one God against another, and besides this accusation abides by the rules of a monotheistic perspective. Of course, it is an extremely presumptuous accusation to say someone simply isn’t worshiping the true God because they don’t understand the nature of God’s being and power. It is also irrational to suggest that misunderstanding something about the object of worship instantly disqualifies the worshipful actions, making them null and void; Besides there are no scriptures I know of to back up that absurd claim.

“Making such presumptuous and irrational accusations alienates others and engenders spite between religious groups, wherein the Christian should consider the counsel to ‘Judge not an unrighteous judgment’.”

It’s also obvious that making such presumptuous and irrational accusations alienates others and engenders spite between religious groups, wherein the Christian should consider the counsel to ‘Judge not an unrighteous judgment’. It can be reasonably argued that most of the problems in the middle east have their roots in the irrational My God vs. Your God mentality, instead of promoting the fact that we all worship the same God differently and simply have different ideas about Him. If the middle-east Jews, Christians, and Muslims accepted what an irrational idea that is, and that they all believe in the same God, but only interpret Him and His nature and purposes differently, then the idea of the “enemies to God” based on religious preference would dissolve as would the philosophy behind “Jihad”. The challenge there is that so much of their scriptures do seem to refer to a plurality of monotheistic Gods, so that isn’t likely to happen without a new interpretation of those verses.

Sadly, that’s not going to happen as long as religious leaderships continue to senselessly pit their monotheistic Gods against each other as the Greeks or Romans did. Fortunately, those of us in the civilized world can be rational and realize we all worship just one God, the Creator of the earth, – just differently. Admittedly some might be more accurate that others in their ideas about God, but can all worship the same God by simply doing good and appreciating each other for it.

July 3, 2007

Healthy High-Tech Family Living

Filed under: Family,Lifestyles,Miscellaneous,Religion,Sociology — lullabyman @ 8:30 pm

We live in an amazing time with wonderful technologies to greatly improve and enhance our life styles. As always, there’s bad that comes with good, and in a world where we all live in glass houses it’s critical that parents be thoughtful and take necessary precautions to protect their children. For example, we all know there are unsavory characters in chat rooms disguising themselves as other children. There are other dangers in cyberspace too that if unchecked can have disturbing consequences. This blog entry introduces ideas on both 1) protecting your family and 2) how to leverage high-tech tools that are otherwise wasted on unproductive activities in most households.

What The Research Says
Pornography, for example, is usually only a typo and a click away in most households. The research (see here) concludes that pornography elicits the same biochemical response as PCP or any other highly addictive hallucinogenic drug, requiring increasing doses of a more concentrated and vile nature to provide the same biochemical response with consecutive addictive pornographic voyerism. Another example of cyberspace dangers are the myriads of activists (example: Clinton Fein’s “ADULTeration”) who feel compelled to expose as many children as possible whether “four years old or seventeen” to “mature dialog”, and since it isn’t technically pornography their efforts are unrestricted, and in some cases it’s even promoted by educational foundations (examples: “Advocates for Youth”, “Siecus”, etc.) that are paid by your taxes to encourage alternative lifestyles among youth as young as 5 years old. In short, enjoying the benefits of living in an information age while protecting youth from untold unwanted influences is a significant challenge, but one that is easily addressed with just a little upfront effort.

“Very young kids don’t need the internet. Within a few hours of training any 13 year old can be nearly as computer competent as another 13 year old regardless of their background. Beyond 13 years old however it’s critical that kids gain certain computer skills or they will be left behind. Unfortunately even many children who already grow up with computers never gain the computer skills that will most help them”

Solutions
How best to meet this challenge? Do you shut your children out of the digital world entirely? Actually, this is not necessarily a bad approach when kids are less than 13-14 years of age (although you can’t do this when they’re not at home). Computers provide few advantages for young children than can’t be quickly made-up later on. For example, within a few hours any 13 year old can become nearly as computer competent as another regardless of their background. Beyond 13 years old however it’s critical that kids gain certain computer skills or they will be left behind. Unfortunately even many children who already grow up with computers never gain the computer skills that will most help them.

How about giving them an unconnected computer to use any time they want? This has many advantages over internet capable computers, though it’s only one of many viable strategies and can be part of a multi-faceted approach. A properly configured unconnected computer can have all of the scholastic advantages of a connected computer and then some. Student based research is perhaps even made easier by using an unconnected computer if it is loaded with Encarta, or Encyclopedia Britannica on DVD, etc. Teachers would far prefer those references to most web-based references (although you can get wikipedia on DVD). Having them use an unconnected PC whenever they want can help them focus on really learning about the computer, computing, programming, etc… instead of surfing the net and loitering in ineffectual chat rooms. The truth is that “the digital divide” is a political and marketing term unscrupulously used to promote government funding of broadband projects, whereas a cheap (used) properly configured unconnected computer can be far more advantageous for kids than an expensive window to the internet requiring a $25/mo to $50/mo fee.

Allowing a net-capable computer in your kid’s bedroom (or other private area) will almost guarantee access to whatever they want no matter how “good” you think they are. It isn’t about them being “good”, it’s about them being curious, and kids are curious. Don’t kid yourself, kids are kids; I kid you not. A simple typo can peak a curiosity, which often becomes seemingly harmless voyerism, descending to a habit, and from there even worse – again, it’s all in well documented research. Again, don’t kid yourself… it isn’t about being “good”, it’s about the curiosity of a child (which is a good thing) and human nature, which can be an entirely good nature if nutured by conscientious parents.

“… kids are curious. Don’t kid yourself, kids are kids; I kid you not. Would you tell your kid to never play with guns and then put a loaded one under their bed? Would you?”

Here’s the multifaceted approach that we use at our house. Feel free to borrow as much of it for your own high-tech family strategy as you’d like:

  1. Educate. Explain in detail to kids why computers are wonderful, while also potentially dangerous with dangerous people, and why porn victimizes and how it alters judgement, alters character, and is socially repugnant. Even if you protect them from harmful internet influences in your own house you can’t place filters on their friend’s computers libraries, etc. so they need to be personally educated on it’s effects.
  2. Provide a “Safe” Environment. Also, give them a protected environment where they can feel safe in, and where you can feel comfortable that they’re safe. You wouldn’t tell your kid to not play with guns and then put a loaded one under their bed would you? Then get to work, here are some methods – you can use any one or a combination of them:
    Method: KidRocket Glubble Client Based Filtering
    (Blue Coat k9)
    Proxy Server Filtering
    What is it: Dedicated kid-friendly fullscreen locked-down browser that won’t exit (not a plug-in), that we link to in the startup folder of their XP account. So when they click their account it boots straight up to this browser. See kidrocket.org. Free. A plugin for Firefox. Restricts where kids can go. You can define where it can and can’t go. Free. More flexible than Kid Rocket, and allows your kids to go to alot more places. Be sure to remove other browsers. Filter all content on each computer as it comes in from the internet or as it is requested. You can do this for free with Blue Coat k9 which is one of the best out there. It doesn’t noticeably slow down the browsing experience and is easy to administer. WHETHER YOU DO ANY OF THE OTHERS AT LEAST DO THIS! You ought to put this on every computer in the house (unless you are doing proxy server filtering). Filter all content by setting up a proxy server. Every webpage viewed on your network is automatically routed through this server, There’s no way around it. Think of it as Big Brother. You can do it for free with a spare computer and Dansguardian and Squid. There are also retail products for doing this.
    How easy is it: Easy. Download and install on their own account (note, early windows versions won’t allow you to create seperate accounts). Put a shortcut in the startup folder so it boots up when they log in. Delete all other browsers from their account. Then password protect your account. Easy. Install Firefox, then install this plugin on their own account (note, early windows versions won’t allow you to create seperate accounts). Delete all other browsers from their account. Then password protect your account. Very easy. Just download and install. For experienced users who know a bit about servers
    How secure Secure enough for under 10. Not very secure, but better than nothing. Pretty secure. Can be circumvented, but not very easily. Only Proxy Filtering is better. Very secure. Can’t go around this as long as they’re using your network.
    Downsides: Very limited. Content is for kids under 10 only. It doesn’t really lock down the user environment (like kid rocket does). Seems like it might be easily circumvented. Not many Downsides. You have to type a password to go to a non-approved site, but that’s easy, and you choose right then whether to make the site temporary or permanently available. Takes some server knowledge, but nothing that you can’t learn given enough time.
  3. Public Area Internet Access. Keep all Internet capable computers in public places (kitchen, family room, etc), and access should only be allowed when they aren’t alone. This can be facilitated by an account with a password that only parents know, to prevent unsupervised use.
  4. An Unlimited-Use Unconnected PC. Provide an Internet-free computer they can do non Internet stuff on (multimedia and DVD-based encylcopedias, homework, journal, write letters, play games, burn cd’s, create, print, make cards, run CD-ROMS, learning programs, etc). Ideally this computer will physically have the Internet capable hardware removed so they can do anything they want, although a password protected network may be adequate. Note: once you have the computer correctly configured then back it up (and create a system restore point) so you can easily do a complete reinstall (this will be necessary from time to time).
  5. Be Upfront and Follow Up. Explain to kids that you’re using a separate program that records all the websites they visit and that you’ll check it regularly (nearly all internet browsers allow this). If you have a way to really do this periodically ask them about a site or two that they visited – that will really let them know you’re seriously interested. It might bug them – but ask yourself whether are you their peer or parent… you can’t have it both ways. They’ll respect you more as a parent if you act like one, and you’ll discover a more enriching and rewarding experience in the long run when that relationship naturally grows into a justifiable peer-peer status.

If you have any more suggestions please post them here.

June 24, 2007

Space-Based Solar Optics to Power and Protect Earth

Further brainstorming over a solar array / weapons defense system did produce one interesting possibility: a low-cost space-based mirror array for CSP (concentrated solar power). The idea seems silly at first glance because it seems far easier to place the optics on earth close to the energy converting apparatus – however some out-of-the-box thinking (as shown below) reveals that space-based optics could be far easier, cheaper, maintenance free, and effective than an earth-based solution (note that optics can be the biggest cost and maintenance for CSP):

1) Orbiting the earth are giant concave mirrors (parabolic in shape), each 7 square miles in area made from ultrathin reflective fabric (like mylar) stretched between 3 structural points (2 miles between each point in this example). Each mirror keeps its parabolic shape by solar wind. Secondary optics are also located at the focal point of the mirror and continually adjust to redirect the beam of concentrated light back to a receiving solar plant on the earth where the suns rays would be converted to usable energy.

Space Based Parabolic Reflective Fabric Mirrors
Above: a small section of a giant array of parabolic reflective fabric mirrors.

2) Innumerable additional 7 sq.mile mirrors can be simply added, each requiring only one additional structural point, 7 more square miles of reflective fabric, and optics at the focal point of each mirror to send the concentrated solar power to a receiving solar plant on earth.

3) The incoming solar power would be distributed among receiving solar plants strategically placed on earth, so each plant would receive the maximum amount of suns possible without damaging the energy conversion facilities. Maintenance could be performed on these earth-based solar plants at night.

The solar reflectors, being in the vacuum of space, would never require any kind of maintenance. Periodic adjustments can be made to keep them approximately facing the sun via temporarily collapsing one mirror to let solar wind push the array back into orientation. The focal point optics necessary to send each mirrors rays to the right location on earth would be powered by solar power of course.

Oh yeah, another thing … this can indeed also be used as an anti-missile defense system if multiple arrays are used, providing round-the-clock protection, while being tons cheaper than any other Star-Wars type technology. It overcomes all the problems of the Solar Missile Defense scenario posed below and has countless advantages.

Also, nighttime surveillance in other parts of the would could be as easy as turning on a light bulb, and can you imagine the psychological effect it could have on the enemy?

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