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Showing posts from 2010

Why we all can't just get along?

Something has been bothering me for the past several weeks as the lame duck session of Congress played out. I couldn't quite put my finger on it until I was watching some of the Sunday morning interview shows. As the pundits were punditing about gridlock and conflict, the guests from the left blamed the right for blocking everything with threats of filibusters and the guests from the right accused the left of ramming legislation through the process without any input or consideration of their point of view.

You know what? They were all correct! But why? And why now? That's what had been bugging me, then the answer hit me like a two ton heavy thing. It is the stakes... they are too high.

Most of what Congress has been/is still fighting about during the 111th is very substantial and will have a big impact on the future. Plus, the number of dollars in play is mind boggling and there is little hope of abatement in the near term.

On Meet The Press was Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, NJ. …

Trickle Down Works (if it is not spent on food and shelter)

The-Asterisk note: This was a draft posting that got lost somehow when BlogSpot got hung up, so if I get a chance I will come back and expound on why Trickle Down economics works if it is not all spent on food and shelter.

The Pursuit of... An Upgrade?

My Thanksgiving thoughts (with apologies to Tom Peters.)

Buy One, Get One Free. Frequent Flyer Miles. College education. New job. Trade in a four year old car. Lottery tickets. Different job. Movie and sports package rather than Basic cable. First Class instead of Coach. Whatever it is, we humans are always looking for an upgrade. What does this have to do with Thanksgiving?

As a native born, plain-vanilla American, I was born in the right place at the right time. At least that is my opinion and I am sticking with it. As anyone that reads this blog can attest, I might seem a bit cranky at times, but it is because I am always seeking... looking for... pursuing... something, but what? Perfection? Nirvana? Excellence? WOW? While I was pondering this salient point this morning, it occurred to me that most of us are pursuing an upgrade.

Aren't we all just looking for something better? When a university trained engineer from Iraq, or a medical doctor from Mali, or a school teacher from Ban…

Bristol "The Pistol" Palin and DWTS

Wow, the spewing forth that is going on in the blogosphere and in the media about Bristol Palin winning not getting the boot on Dancing With The Stars last Tuesday night is actually quite amazing. If we could all show this much concern about the North Koreans building a new nuclear material enrichment facility, we might have a better situation right now. (Ooops, sorry, The Situation got booted a few weeks ago.)

Anyway, my point for this abbreviated version of The-Asterisk is that many of the left wing "spewers" have mentioned that Sarah Palin is a know-nothing, obnoxious, attention-grabbing, right wing nutbag that wants to be President of these United States. So? Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton thought they had a shot at it. So did Dennis Kusinich, Pat Robertson and Al Gore.

And speaking of glow-in-the-dark intelligence driving great job performance, how is Barack Obama doing on the foreign policy stage lately? Yeah, lighting up the G20, eh?

Sometimes I think that having a huge n…

The "Numbing Down" of America

As I sit in the terminal at JFK Airport in New York awaiting the final flight of my trip from Los Angeles' LAX, airport security is at the top of my mind. To the best of my knowledge, today poses no bigger threat to national security than yesterday did. Yet as I proceeded on a shuttle bus from the off-site car rental facility to the Delta terminal, traffic was piled up near the big, white L A X letters announcing the entrance to the airport. As we crept to the turn-in, there were several tent-like structures composing a security checkpoint with uniformed police somehow choosing which vehicles would pass and which would be stopped for inspection.

We were waved through Checkpoint Charlie. As the bus pulled up in front of the terminal, there were several TSA personnel milling about outside. I went in and retrieved my boarding pass from the convenient self-service kiosk. Proceeding on, there were only three people ahead of me in the security line. As the initial TSA person tried using …

The Terrorists Have Won

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Every time I pass through an American airport, I think to myself "The terrorists have won." This has been my opinion for the past eight years or so. I don't think these prehistoric goons with a modern education ever imagined that they would or could collapse not one but BOTH of the World Trade Center towers. Given the heinous-ness of that action, there is NO WAY that they could have predicted how easily the US Government, both Republican and Democrat, would allow them to irreversibly change the way every traveller is affected every day.

But once they saw how easily we were manipulated, I DO think that they took thier most hapless stooges, sent them off on a 'mission' to blow up a plane, knowing that they would get caught, but realizing that with each of their Keystone Kops mis-adventures, they were throwing yet another bag of sand in the gears of commerce.

And THAT is really their goal. To scare us back to the Stone Age. Not bomb us back to the Stone Age (yeah, tha…

Veterans Day from the perspective of a vet

I will keep this concise.

I am a 30 year veteran of the US Navy and Naval Reserve. I joined when I was 17 in order to get an education and get going in life. Well, I certainly accomplished that goal! During my 11 years of active duty I lived in two foreign countries for over 5 years and had several stateside duty stations in addition to about two years of electronics and specialized training. While I was building my business (started it with another Navy vet) I spent 20 years in the reserves.

During this time I met a HUGE number of people in the military, some of whom are lifelong friends, a few I never want to see again, plus a lot of people that I enjoyed growing up and working around. The military gave me an opportunity to mix and mingle with a spectrum of people both in and out of the service that I would probably never have had otherwise. I found out about how people actually live in other countries (as opposed to dropping in for a one day visit on a tour bus.)

What really sticks wi…

Reflections on the 2010 Election

As I have stated elsewhere, with the Republican victories yesterday we got the CHANGE, now we move into the HOPE phase. Hope that the Class of 2010 can put the cart back on the road, regardless of which ditch it is in and who put it there. Charles Krauthammer made a poignant observation last night on Fox News. He said that the Democratic sweep of Congress in 2006 and the Obama election of 2008 were anomalies on the political landscape. That they were upheavals based on huge external forces on the body politic... the Iraq War in 2006 and the Grand Depression of 2008 and that now, 2010 brings us back in line close to the status quo in the US... older people voting, youngsters and the poor staying home.

Staying home and not voting is fine with me. Those that scream "Vote or Die" are nuts. The last thing I want is an enfranchised Zombie voting for whomever is on the blue slip they are handed as they trudge into the polling place. If you cannot press, click or punch for whomever o…

I love the Internet and I love Google

First let me clarify. I own a technology company that provides IT support services to a lot of small and medium sized businesses. As you well know, supporting anything that has to do with computers is a huge undertaking and what you need to know to make it through one day is completely different than what you needed to know the day before.

Several months back, we took on the support of a decent-sized company. Their data center was, shall we say, a mess. Well, I looked at their existing servers and decided that we could re-use two of them. They were built from Intel parts, with a 2U rack mount case, 4 active removable drive bays and an Intel S5000VSA motherboard. This motherboard supports RAID but the existing RAID drives were degraded (NICE!!!)

We finally got the opportunity to pull one of the servers out for refurbishment. I brought it back to the shop and ran Sysinternal's DISK2VHD on the server. Next, I removed the old drives, well... removed the old drive and set it aside as a f…

Health Insurance is like the Soda Pop industry?

All this talk about price increases with your current health insurance and how much it will cost to pay for Obamacare got me to thinking... Health insurance is a lot like the Soda Pop industry, isn't it?

Take a walk through the refreshment aisle of your local supermarket and just look around. You will see Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke, Diet Cherry Coke, Coke in 8 oz. glass bottles, 16 oz. and 24 oz. plastic bottles, 12 oz cans in 12 packs and 24 packs, one liter bottles and two liter bottles. And lets not forget those awkward 8 oz. cans. Have you ever noticed how the smaller the container, the more expensive the product seems to be? And I haven't even talked about Pepsi, Mountain Dew (regular, diet and EXTREME), RC and Diet Rite, plus the ubiquitous 3 liter barrel of house brand soda for 89 cents per bottle.

Next, check out 7-Eleven. There you will find an endcap display of Coke products for $1.89 per 2 liter bottle right next to a Pepsi display for 99 cents per bottl…

Campaign Disclosure Laws - Good or Evil?

I have always been a proponent of transparency in government. I even crafted an elaborate scheme about 10 years where each political ad would have a 6 digit tag line for radio and TV or a code at the bottom of each printed piece. You could then go to www.fec.gov/open, type in that number and find out who or what paid for the ad. If there were other entities involved, you could drill down until you found the true source. I sent this suggestion to all of my federal, state and local representatives. I got NO response from any of them.

So what changed my mind about disclosure?

Militant liberals, that's what. In case after case, left wing loons (I love calling them the same thing that they call us) in California have used the state's FOIA law to find out who is contributing to political races. A prominent businessperson could donate $5,000 to a candidate for Attorney General because he agrees with the candidate's stance on business and regulation. An abortion rights fringe group …

What our best and brightest are doing to protect society

I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday describing how lawyers "concerned about consumer protection" are scouring the shelves and racks of retailers looking for expired patent numbers printed or embossed into products. If the attorneys find an expired patent number, they are filing suit against these companies in the name of the federal government for violating a law that until recently was seen as about as serious as jaywalking.

A recent ruling, however, stated that they could sue for a $500 fine for each violation and each violation could be interpreted as every box, package or item with the bad number. Additionally, the interesting part is that the lawyers split the spoils with the government, so there is no impetus for the feds to pull back on this extortion.

Is this all that these scumbags have to do? Read the article and see the self-aggrandizement dripping from these attorney's statements.

To me this law breaking is about as serious as a company havin…

Don't blame the pushers, blame the crackheads???

I am having a debate with a new found friend on Twitter @REcrab. We met through @tom_peters, who really knows how to spark debate.

Earlier today I tweeted: "If the Gov't investigates BP 2 the Nth degree 'to make sure it doesn't happen again', when can we do the same to Congress abt fin. meltdown?" Tyler tweets back "Congress caused the meltdown?Thought we did not like regs. You got what you get with no regs. " and off to the races we went.

My contention is that Congress' intention to create 'affordable' housing for all Americans basically unlocked the bank vaults and left the doors unattended. Everyone wants to prosecute the bankers and brokers but the politicians and policy makers get away scott free and NO ONE in Washington loses their job.

Let me make myself very clear! I have virtually NO respect for bankers. Absolutely NO respect for credit card companies and the same goes for brokers and mortgage sharks. These guys are responsible for…

Senate wants to lend $30 Billion (US) to Small Businesses

From Bloomberg Businessweek Senate Clears Way for $30 Billion Small Business Fund

So let me get this straight. Let's say I have a small business, I am in dire straights, cashflow-wise, and I need money. My credit cards are maxed, uncashed paychecks sit in my safe and my three employees leave early on payday to make sure their check gets in the bank that day.

I am going to go down to my local hometown bank, sit down in front of the friendly loan officer and say "Hi. I would like to borrow $100,000 dollars from that cool $30,000,000,000 fund that the government has set up for small businesses that need funding." How is that conversation going to go?

I have a house that is still 20 years from being paid off and it has a second mortgage based on its inflated valuation in 2007, so I have -$45,000 in equity. I am the guy that needs the money. Anybody out there think I am going to get it? Especially if I am a healthy white male? (No, not a white whale... a white male.)

Memo to entr…

My thoughts on Flipboard

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First it was Robert Scoble late last week announcing an earth shattering product that will change the way social media and the internet were viewed (but he was under NDA so he couldn't elucidate). Then the tweets started rolling around 8pm on Tuesday about this new thing called Flipboard. I googled flipboard and found numerous references to a prop for skatr boyz and a link or two about the real company, flipboard.com. Here is the first video that most of us saw on the product:






The problem was, it would not be released until midnight California time. I am on the east coast and I wasn't about to wait until 3am to download a cool program, so off to bed I went.

By 7am the next morning, the internets were all a-twitter (yes, pun was severely intended.) I found a few posts about @flipboard so I clicked on over and followed them. I was #105. Cool. I then went to iTunes and loaded the app on my iPad. Cooler. Then I tried to set up my Twitter and Facebook accounts. Not so cool. Seems tha…

VDI, Windows and what will Microsoft do?

VDI, for those of you who don't know, is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Generally speaking, VDI is the technology where you set up multiple virtual PCs on a host computer. What you end up with is a server running VMWare, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xen, or some other hypervisor with a number of PC images running on top of the hypervisor. Each image is then controlled by a client device, be it a thin client, re-purposed PC running special software, or some other equipment. Contrast this with Terminal Services (now called Remote Desktop Services) which is where a server multitasks and allows multiple users to share the same server simultaneously.

VDI hosts multiple instances (Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Linux, Windows 98) running at the same time whereas RDS allows Windows Server 2008R2 to be run by 20-30 or more users at the same time.

Now that we have all of that established, there are a bunch of cool technologies out, or coming out that support VDI in a variety of ways. To…

Who Inherits One's Digtritus?

Just saw a tweet from Michael Arrington and it made me think. When you or I or someone we care about dies, where does our digital legacy go? This Arrington article speaks mainly about a new company, 1000Memories that provides a place for people to memorialize someone that will remain in place 'forever'. That is a great idea... a common gathering place for memories and recollections. A sort of "Tombstonebook" where The Wall has no participation from the subject. (Now that I think about it, I wonder what Facebook's policy is on the death of a FB participant?)

What his article really made me think about though, is the other stuff that comprises one's digital life. Word documents, spreadsheets, online email accounts, Outlook pst file, digital photos, digital movies, accounts and passwords, virtual money in Second Life or FarmVille.

Think about it. Most of this stuff is now virtual. I mean, it is not tangible, but is it any less valuable?

When my grandmother died 20-…

Independence Day thoughts on Immigration

It seems that our President has brought immigration back into the national conversation by proposing "comprehensive immigration reform". What does comprehensive mean? All inclusive? Omnibus? Actually it is code for amnesty along with a bunch of other stuff thrown in to get votes which will never get enforced (except for the amnesty part.)

As a lifelong right-wing, but independent, thinker, I have an opinion on what would work to cure our immigration ills. (If you are a regular reader of The-Asterisk, you will already know that I have an opinion on just about any subject. If you want to know more, leave a comment at the end of this entry.)

My solution is fairly comprehensive, so let me give it a go.



The-Asterisk's Totally Awesome Comprehensive Immigration Reform Plan
1. Nationally sponsored identification card. Privacy nuts... get over it. The cat is out of the privacy bag. The barn door has been left open. It is water under the bridge. Enough metaphors? We are all identified…

Enough!

I am currently reading the book "Enough: True Measures of Money, Business and Life" by John C. Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard Mutual Fund family. It is a very good book and comes highly recommended by Tom Peters, but lest you think this blog post is about the book, it is not...

It is a quick blurb about how much stuff is enough.

Last week, I had a small water line that feeds my refrigerator ice maker burst at my cabin. I was not there when it happened and it was about 4 days before it was discovered. Wow, does water ever seek its own level! First, it got on the wood floor, then under the wood floor, then under the tar paper over the subfloor and then when that was full, it just cascaded down walls and ducts into the basement where it repeated the scenario until it finally found a way to get outside.

Once it was discovered, we got the ServiceMaster people out there with blowers and dehumidifiers, and generally got most of the obvious water cleared out in about a day. But... …

Blinded by "Settled" Science

Headline in today's local paper "BP's rosy spill plan vs. the grim reality" reflects a feeling that I have had for a number of years. It talks about how BP said they could suck up most of the 20 million barrels of oil, but the oil is now covering over 3,300 square miles. About how the blowout would have "no adverse impact" on marine animals, but it obviously has. And about how the blowout site was too far offshore to necessitate shore cleanup concerns, but the reality is that the currents are spreading the oil to the shores to the north and east as well as potentially to the eastern coast of the US.

Please note that this is not a BP bashing post. There is enough of that from other bloggers and from the White House. This is a post about 'settled science'.

Don't get me wrong. I love science. I am constantly amazed at the new products and services we get every day because of advances in science. But the untold secret is the fact that for every advanc…

I've looked at clouds from both sides now

With apologies to Joni Mitchell. I am sure that someone else has used this metaphor before, but I haven't seen it, so I am going to claim it as original thought...

While cruising at 38,000 feet on my way to the Kaseya Connect User Conference in Las Vegas, I am looking out at beautiful, fluffy clouds. I don't know if they are Cumulus, Nimbus, Cirrus or a combination thereof. They just look pretty and innocent. From the ground however, it could be a whole different story. It might be a thunderstorm dumping unneeded rain on saturated ground causing flooding and destruction, or it could be the same storm dumping millions of gallons of water onto parched crops, saving thousands of people from thirst and starvation.

The clouds could also be an annoying drizzle on a family picnic, or they could be providing blessed shade from a blistering sun.

My point is that as we move into cloud computing, every business and every IT service provider will see the same thing in myriad ways; some good…

Our future is partly to mostly cloudy

From 35,000 feet above the Gulf of Mexico.

Finally in the air after a weather delay in New Orleans, I am reflecting on the past three days of the 3rd quasi-annual SMB Migration IT Pro Conference. In addition to great food, great people and great times, I think we all were able to pick up new ideas about trials, tribulations and trends in the IT support business.

We IT Professionals are in the midst of a transformation from the MSP era to a new era. Many would call this new era the "cloud" era, but I think it is more than that. I might call it the "cloud-driven" era, but even that name doesn't fully describe what is beginning to happen. The cloud is really a catalyst, forcing us to take a new look at how we deliver (and bill for) services. A recurring theme of discussion, both on-stage and in the hallways, was how would the cloud change our businesses. While this is an important question from an existential point of view, my biggest point of ponderment (my new wor…

Amend it, don't bend it

This past week I received a 'fat envelope' in the mail. It was from the Cato Institute. I'm sure I am on their list because of my world-renowned blogging and tweeting abilities. So I ripped open the envelope expecting some talking points or such, but out fell a little pocket-sized copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.

I have read both documents in the past, since they are both very short, just like my attention span (this little pocket edition with both documents is only 1/8" thick... compare that with the Obamacare bill which was over 4 reams of standard-sized paper.) I started thumbing through the booklet and I focused my attention on the amendments. Of course, the most famous amendments are the first ten, commonly referred to as the Bill of Rights but there have only been 17 more since the original ten.

I was really surprised by my realization that there have been very few amendments of substance. Most of the ch…