Monthly Archives: April 2010

I’m Rich!

Just stumbled across this: The Real Gap Between The Rich and The Poor Is Not The Money.

Apparently the major difference between classes is not your bank balance, it is your attitude. This answers a lot of questions that i don’t recall ever asking. Reading it, I realizes that even though my income is strictly middle-class, my attitudes areĀ  almost all “rich”, which is kinda weird…

Dave Ramsey puts it well: “I’ve been broke, but I’ve never been poor: Broke is a temporary place. Poor is a lifestyle.”

Don’t buy a Gateway

I recently acquired a Gateway computer with no Hard Drive. So I went to Gateway’s website to get install media.

What followed was a long trail of unhelpful and sometimes contradictory e-mails from their alleged technical support. If you want all the boring details you can find them here.

So… what I have I learned from this experience debacle?

  • Gateway have farmed out their Technical Support to a bunch of bloody idiots.
  • Discontinuing support at a computer’s third birthday, while ridiculous and unacceptable, is standard practice at Gateway. Perhaps they expect you to run out and buy another Gateway? Not bloody likely…
  • I cannot believe that Gateway would actually turn away someone who wanted to pay for a recovery disk for a machine that they legitimately owned. This makes a mockery of the OEM license supplied with the machine.
  • The main reason people purchase Brand-Name PCs is support. Take that away and you don’t have much.

I have never bought a Gateway machine before – this one was given to me. In all the years I have worked with Dell, they have never treated me like this.

I cannot, in good conscience, recommend Gateway computers.

Why? Because if you call support in thirty-six months’ time, they will tell you: “You on you own, foo!

Postscript: I later found a Torrent version of the same OS that came on the machine. The key on the license sticker was accepted and installation went flawlessly. Then I pulled the drive and scanned it with three different malware checkers before connecting the computer to my network. To the best of my ability, this is legal and my conscience is clear; the Computer is running the OS that it was licensed to run. While our misinformed friends in the media and content industries would love to make them illegal, this proves that there are serious non-infringing uses for torrents.

The Great Bed Hunt

We went shopping for a bed today. Our old bed is ten or eleven years old, and has a bad case of “bed impressions”, which may be contributing to my back problems. So we decided to go shopping for a new bed, and plotted a course that took us to half a dozen local bed/mattress places.

This must have been the best weekend of the year, as every place we went to was having a sale – either that or beds are overpriced and there is always a “sale”. Interestingly, every one had only one salesperson or manager on duty.

  1. Nice chap. Educated us on types of beds, firm vs soft, Turns out that I prefer a firm bed (like most men), while milady prefers a soft bed (like most women) Beds were expensive though.
  2. Nicer chap. Beds are on sale here, He made us aware that it is possible to get a mattress that is half-firm and half-soft. He had a floor model that was marked-down on clearance . This looked like a good deal, but since we had just started, I was reluctant to commit, so I ask for his card. On his card, he marked it down by an additional $60. This was our best bet, and we decided that we swould buy this one if we found nothing better.
  3. Our first disappointment. This chap was very tall, a little intimidating (unintentional, I’m sure) and reminded us of a car salesman. Half way through his wife and two cute little boys showed up. I am sure this, too, was unintentional, but we felt like we were interrupting a family reunion… but then we were about to leave anyway, so no harm done.
  4. This was an outlet. It was rather messy and smelled… odd. The salesperson was already attending to another customer, a woman with two small but exceedingly ill-behaved children. the children were very badly behaved; the little boy kept flinging himself on every bed, while his older sister kept interrupting her mother with “Mommy! I want that one!”, and running around smacking every bed (including the ones we were trying out). We would have waited to be served, but every time milady or myself lay down on a bed, she would jump on the other side of the bed, making it impossible for us to try a bed together. I tried a little game with her and headed to the other side of the store; she followed me. Mommy said nothing. I cannot find it in my heart to blame the kids though. Aside from a few half-hearted admonitions, the mother did nothing. Madam, if you are reading this, please curb and discipline your brats. To you they are undoubtedly the most beautiful of God’s creations, but to the rest of humanity they are undisciplined hell-spawn.
  5. On then, to the next place. An unmemorable experience, probably because we did not get to speak with the salesman, as he was busy with other customers. Ah well…. In the parking lot, we noticed two places across the road, so off we went.
  6. The next place started off well enough, with the chap asking diagnostic questions and being helpful. Prices are good but not great. He talked about their thirty-day “guarantee”, where you can do a one-time trade-up to a same-or-greater-value bed within ninety days. Then he blew it. I wanted to browse other stores: “I am concerned that I might have missed something”. He questioned my decision. “You’ve looked at all the options: what do you think you might have missed?”. BZZT!! Wrong answer “If I knew, then it wouldn’t be something I missed.” that made me mad, and it cost him a sale and a customer. Milady’s comment as we exited, stage right “I didn’t like him; he was pushy”.
  7. We walked into the next store and looked around. The salesperson, a lady of middle-age, seemed very understanding and sympathetic. They had a couple of floor-models that they were trying to get rid of, and they were marked-down for clearance. One was identical to the model that we saw at store #2… But was $100 cheaper. We tried it; me likey! She likey! And it was good.I asked about delivery. She said that delivery was free on new beds but cost $40 for floor models. I must have involuntarily raised an eyebrow at that, as she went to the computer, checked some details and offered us free delivery.

    I nodded. She had won the sale.

    Then she did something we did not expect. Unasked-for, she knocked another $100 off the price. After placing the order and paying, we left in a happy daze.

Lessons learned:

  • Never pay full price for a bed – they are ALL overpriced.
  • Most of the salesmen are decent and helpful…
  • …if only the same could be said for some of the customers. If you have young children, control them in public. For some of you that may mean inflicting punishment or using “sharp” words. doing something
  • Most men sleep closest to the door; they’re women sleep furthest from it. Nobody knows why – I suspect that it may be a primitive “protection” mechanism. Me Tarzan! You Jane! Me protect you! UG!
  • Too many of the customers I saw were women shopping alone. Guys , you need to “man up” and go with her. She will love you for it, and you will get a vote in the process. Or you can take the easy way out, and end up with an overly-soft bed and back trouble. Your choice…
  • If you feel pressured… RUN.
  • For a good night’s sleep call 495-2160 and ask for Carol. šŸ™‚

Same stuff, different day.

BBC News – Iranian cleric blames quakes on promiscuous women.

I read this story with a mixture of amusement and disgust.

Amusement because this is nothing new; In the book of Genesis, the first man blamed the first woman for the first mistake. Same old story.

Disgust because it is always easier to blame someone or something else than to admit to the possibility that you might be the problem. There are two sides to every story; women cannot be promiscuous by themselves, but just like in the story of the adulteress bought before Jesus, the promiscuous men are conspicuous by their absence.

Muslim men are evidently having trouble controlling themselves if a flash of bare wrist is enough to throw them into sexual frenzy. Perhaps they should take a long hard look in the mirror.

Who is to say that an Angry Jehovah is exacting vengeance on Iran for displeasing him by subjugating half of his children? And no, I am not espousing that theory, I am just asking the question “What if the clerics are wrong?” Or have they decided that are we not allowed to ask that question?

The Bible teaches that God made us in his image. But it is also true that we all make God in our image. Generous people see God as generous. Mean people envisage a mean God. Soldiers see God as a divine high commander. Mothers see God as the embodiment of caring and empathy. One wonders what kind of God these clerics see.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Western Muslim leaders have to say about this. I suspect that they will remain silent – as usual.

Tax Day Thoughts

According to a survey by CNN Money, 3/4 of Americans say the Government wastes their tax dollars (the the other 25% are apparently either asleep or not paying attention)

  • 47% of Americans pay no income tax.
  • Half the public believe that the tax system is unfair. Therefore half the public believe that the tax system is fair (that would presumably be the half that does not pay taxes).
  • The top 20% of wage-earners pay 70% of the taxes.
  • Those earning over $200,000 will be paying even more taxes to pay for Obamacareā„¢
  • Obamacareā„¢ will not kick in until 2014, but the tax raises will kick in next year (after they have been squeezing “the rich” for two years).
  • 6 in 10 think that the Bush Tax Cuts (enacted in 2001, set to expire this year) should be made permanent.
  • A quarter of Americans think that the Internal Revenue Service should be abolished (we have already established that half the population pay no taxes or actually get money from the IRS – so that 25% represents half of those who pay tax).

Makes you think…

Shame on you, Microsoft

Yesterday, being the second Tuesday of the month, was Patch Tuesday. This is normal.

As usual, Microsoft released a dozen or so patches. This, too is normal.

What is not normal is that when I went to restart one of the five machines in my house, I saw this:

Microsoft recommends and defaults to automagically installing updates. This is right, reasonable and proper, and what I recommend to most users. I, however, am a Geek, and I like to know – and control – what is happening on my machines, so they are all set to “download and notify”. That is: Download the updates and notify me;Ā  I will control the installation process.

The above screenshot shows that one or more of the patches (two, in this particular case) were sneaked onto my machine without telling me and against my express wishes. This seems to indicate that Microsoft apparently views my freedom of choice with contempt.

What is worse is that they could not be bothered to mention the fact that they sneaked these patches onto my systems; nor did they mention that a reboot is required. In fact, the only way I would know is if I went to shutdown or reboot.

Since some of my machines go for weeks between reboots, this is alarming. Since the updates do not take effect until the machine has been rebooted, this means that a machine could be vulnerable without my even realizing it.

Shame on you, Microsoft. Shame, shame, shame.

Now Reading: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Corey Doctorow

Happy Birthday Anne

The ancestor of all of our copyright laws, the Statute of Anne, is 300 years old today.

Before this law was passed, only “copy rights” (as they were called at the time) were controlled and enforced by guilds, who had exclusive – and eternal –Ā  rights granted to them under license from the Crown, to print books.

This law, passed in 1710 and named after the Queen at the time, moved the “copy right” from the guilds (publishers, if you like) to the authors. It also reduced the length of the term of copy right (to 21 years for books already in print and 14+14 years for new ones) – which effectively birthed the Public Domain.

So revolutionary as this idea that elements of the Statute of Anne found their way into the U.S. Constitution.

Oh, how far we have fallen…