Category: opinion

Insanity Run Amuck

Insanity Run Amuck

A sudden rush of noise distracted me from being careful of the truck ahead of me, which seemed to have trouble staying in one lane. As his tires crept over one white line and then over the other, clearly, the driver was not paying careful attention to what he was doing. Perhaps this truck was not updated with the safety devices, or the driver didn’t care.

The noise, however, was not from the truck. It was from not one, not two, but three sports cars weaving in and out of vehicles on the busy freeway.

Two were Dodge Chargers, and the other was a Ford Mustang.

Traffic was moving at the posted speed. These folks passed us like we were not moving.

The last of the three, a charger, came inches from my back bumper. Had it collided with me at that speed, the formula F=M*A would have applied.

It would have been like a ‘pit maneuver’ at highway speeds.

Folks, this was at 17:05 hours last Friday, the 18th of November, on Westbound GBT.

Since this was on the tollway, is there a way to check which vehicles were on the tollway? I bet there is.

I won’t state the obvious of how utterly stupid this action is. People go to events where fast cars are involved to see the wrecks. Much like boxing, it is a sick sport. That is my opinion.

I live over a mile from major highways. However, I can still hear the Ninja bikes and other loud cars occasionally on those highways. I listen to them as they put the proverbial pedal to the metal.

There must be a way to track these drivers after the fact. There will be some who defend their actions, although they are indefensible. If the death of your loved one was caused by their stupidity, you would not even think to protect them.

Think of the attorney seeking to defend such a deviant’s actions. How can they sleep at night?

Possibly I am oversensitive because an intoxicated driver almost killed me. A head-on collision at highway speeds changed my life forever. Over thirty years later, every movement is a reminder of that day. Whenever I get behind the wheel, PTSD reminds me of how tenuous life is. It is a struggle to leave the house and get on the road because of the actions of one inconsiderate SOB.

As we head into this Holiday season, I implore you to think before you decide to drive while under the influence. The life you save might be your own.

Even after the fact, I would encourage the traffic enforcement folks to go after stupid people like that. I am not interested in speeding per se but in reckless driving, including speeds far exceeding rated maximums.

As you travel this holiday season, be on the alert for stupid people. Statistically, there are safer times of the day and the week to travel.

Early in the morning (after sunrise) until noon is relatively safe. From noon to first light the following day, rates of accident increase logarithmically, tapering off the closer you get to morning.

Rush hour most any weekday, sees a higher number of car crashes. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are much higher in incidents of accidents than Monday through Thursday.

We can apply a little common sense to this equation and determine the source of the rise in accidents. They are lower when people are expected to be working or will need to return to work than on other days of the week. Holidays are worse for that very reason.

I wonder if we could sue the liquor industry like other idiots are attempting to sue gun manufacturers. It’s obviously the booze causing the problem, right?

-Best

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Don’t use the condiments

Don’t use the condiments

On a local social networking site, a person sounded off about some child drinking from the chocolate syrup bottle at the local BBQ joint. She corrected the child and told management what had happened. The girl behind the counter tossed the syrup. When the boy told his father, he glanced at the woman, waved, and left the establishment.

The thread went on with many weighing in.

Since my thoughts are more verbose than intended, I thought I would put this on my blog instead.

It starts with the parents. It might be more profound than that. Kids are being raised by video games and what used to be Hollywood.

The economy is such that usually, both parents must work. Your children are not raised by ‘Father knows Best, or Leave it to Beaver.’ If they are in a single-parent home, that lack of good behavior goes double. Where do they then learn what is socially acceptable?

I am a writer. Often my characters bump into today’s value system. It has been incumbent upon me to learn where these kids get their values. It was not an exhaustive search. After looking at some of the games they play, examining the amount of unsupervised time they have, and the educational system tolerating bad behavior, I had my answers.

Not long ago, I was in the food court close to some teenagers who were lamenting about their home lives. These were kids wearing designer clothing. They each had a smartphone, some had braces, and they went on about how crappy their parents were. I had to leave.

Speaking with children of different generations, I notice a variance in what they think is acceptable behavior. It is rather shocking.

Today’s 30-somethings that I speak with are clueless. At their age, they should be saving for retirement. Instead, they rent an apartment equivalent to the house they grew up in. They attempt to live as if they were still under their parent’s roof and eat out as if it were free. Many parents enable this behavior by supplementing their income. Their kids live paycheck to paycheck, usually running a deficit by the end of the month. Much like that college loan, they also have credit card debt. Why? They were never taught to manage money.

Instead of attempting to do it for themselves, they complain about how crappy life is and, yes, spend their free time on the computer playing video games. It is no small wonder they cannot afford their student loans.

The gaming industry is $188 Billion. Proponents of video games will argue against what I am telling you. Still, from Sandy Hook to many other mass shooting events, most of those shooters had one thing in common. Can you guess?

One of the officers investigating Sandy Hook told the press that the kid was ‘very proficient’ at killing that many people. It was almost as if he were trained in the military. Huh…

The Parkland Shooter was part of a unique program where his misdeeds (criminal) were kept secret from the School to avoid the school pipeline to prison. The argument for this program is that kids will grow out of it. One trip to the south side of Chicago will change the mind of most. The FBI knew about the shooter’s violent proclivities and were even warned before the shooting. They did nothing. I am still amazed that the activist David Hogg has yet to figure it out.

A teacher in California was beaten by a student because ‘she gave him a failing grade.’ The school system tried to convince the teacher (while she was still in hospital) not to press charges. If memory serves, he broke her jaw, among other things. It would ruin the boy’s life if you pressed charges. I wonder where that ‘child’ is now?

Playing video games releases endorphins which make the player feel good. The hormones and chemicals released are addicting. We humans can be addicted to almost anything, even pain. Does that fact shed some light on why some self-harm?

Those game players reading this will likely chime in, telling me I am wrong. Truth is, I am not mistaken. If you were to honestly log the amount of time you spend playing games, you might be surprised. How does it make you feel to win or take that hill? How do you feel when you lose? When confronted with the truth, how does that make you feel? How does that make you feel if you are a sniper and kill the ‘enemy? No, I am not wrong.

Can you guess why Syrup Boy was drinking the syrup? Sure, it tasted good, but what else? Yes, chocolate is addicting, as is anything that makes you ‘feel’ good. That little feature of most animals is for the survival of the species. I don’t need to spell that out for most of you.

Those proponents of video games immediately tried to spin things differently, but…If you live in a world full of violence, day in and day out, guess what happens to your psychic? Where did this Sandy Hook killer learn to be so proficient? He blew one of the teacher’s heads off and was heard laughing about it after the fact. One wonders why. Was it what he expected?

Were you aware that you could get PTSD from video games? Now we have VR (virtual reality), which will most certainly make the game more real or immersive. Are we even looking into cause and effect? No, it’s the guns doing it.

It is almost as if we should have a consumer protection agency or something looking into cause and effect. What happens if?

There is a real danger among us; syrup boy is just one minor symptom that we are doing something wrong. The prison population is a vast indicator we are doing something very wrong. PFFT

Cause and effect, garbage in, garbage out. Why has nobody put this together? Is it that unpopular? Can we not handle the truth? Are we not paying anyone to look into such things?

Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, it will all be ok.

I mention the $188 Billion gaming industry because they hire PR firms to spin events like some mass shooting in another direction, away from the obvious. IT’S THE GUNS!!!

Guns are an easy emotional target or trigger word. That is why gaming lobbyists push the gun narrative. They know what it is, but $188 billion pays for PR firms and lobbyists and buys congressmen. It also makes the 2cnd amendment and the NRA the enemies of the people. If they can tie it to a political party, that is just a bonus.

Mental illness is rife. Covid, the lockdowns, and much more play into what is happening. With the lockdowns, the youth have more time to immerse themselves in these games. During the lockdown, the youth were not as socially active as they might have been. Games are an alternate reality. One wonders where reality and games collide. Add drugs into the mix, and that line will get super blurry.

Uvalde; his grandfather was a drug dealer, his mother a junkie, and you know grandma was not innocent or clueless about where the money came from. Pot today has a THC content of up to 95%. In the ’70s, the THC content was about 5%. The effects on the brain are mind-numbing and can cause uncontrollable rage. A toxicology report is still pending on the Uvalde shooter.

Riddle me this, why did the City of Carrollton, Texas, spend tax dollars on creating an E-sports (gaming facility for kids to play video games?) Wouldn’t it be better for kids to play these around their parents? Is this a taxpayer-funded babysitter or surrogate guardian who would also drink from the syrup bottle? Is it for kids who can’t afford a gaming computer?

In truth, I am uncertain what this facility is. On the surface, it sounds like a taxpayer-funded Dave and Busters, only for video games, period. Shouldn’t we try to get kids away from the keyboard and outside playing sports?

I am glad that the kid that shot up the July 4th celebration was such a coward that he gave up without committing suicide by cop. We need to learn what motivated him and everything else we can. He, like others, will end up being a statistic, but nevertheless, information is valuable.  

Where did he learn to be a sniper? He must have known about ballistics to shoot that distance and hit the target. Where did he learn?

Many people claim that School is a pipeline to prison. They blame it on things that are far from the facts. To quote Jack Nicholson, ‘They can’t handle the truth.’ In School, you learn the basics to get by in life and are introduced to social mores.

When I went to School, if your shirt was not tucked in correctly and you were caught, you earned a swat. For the rest of that day, every time you sat, there was this stinging reminder to make sure your shirt was properly tucked in.

Some parents argue against such things. They doth protest. Their argument is that you are teaching kids to hit; I disagree. You are teaching them that we have rules. While you are here, you will follow them. Trust me, parents, kids know how to hit already.

If you have flown, there are more rules than I care to count. Do not joke with the TSA.

In society, there are rules. You and I have those same rules. We get hit in the pocketbook if we speed or drive erratically. If you have one of your tires over the line in a handicapped parking area, the fine is over $600. I am talking about accidentally crossing that little white line with one tire.

One lady had just picked her kid up from school. She was on her phone while speeding through the school zone. The motorcycle cop had his lights on. He tried to get her attention for over a mile before he was forced to go up to her window at a red light and tap on it. I hope her child watched that interaction.

She was terribly distracted by the conversation on the phone. Speeding through a school zone is a hefty ticket. On your phone, while driving in a school zone is yet another. Not seeing the cop for at least a mile…Those mistakes will be quite the spanking.

My point is that there are rules; when do we start teaching them to our kids? There are social mores that are also incumbent upon us to teach. We don’t drink from the bottle. We cannot be our children’s friends. We must be parents first; that is our job. We are not talking about child abuse or beating anyone; we are talking about course corrections. We are talking about parenting. Know what your child is doing. We parents are held accountable for their actions until they reach adulthood. Our job is to raise them so that the criminal justice system does not have to.

Some scream about prison overpopulation. We, the parents, are in part the cause of this. The lack of morality and, yes, the violence are symptoms of not being engaged with your progeny.

Dysfunctional families are endemic to the problem, and that is what congress should be addressing. Breaking the cycle of single-parent homes requires education.  

Drugs and the promise of easy money probably eclipse poor parenting, as even the best of parents end up burying a child due to an overdose. Some lose them to gang violence. That, of course, is systemic of drugs and the drug culture.

It starts at home. You are the person they will model until such a time they attempt to emulate some actor or actress. If you teach them correctly and raise them right, you will not need to worry about what the schools are doing to indoctrinate them into this woke world of weirdness. You might also keep them from hanging with the wrong crowd.

Anyone who teaches your kids to hate their country must be in a different vocation. Any person who grooms your young child must be behind bars for pedophilia. The messages children get today are mind-bending. Homeschooling is almost a must.

Your options are clear. Either be of good moral character and lead by example or teach them how to look innocent in a lineup.

-Best

Should we stick with incandescent bulbs?

Should we stick with incandescent bulbs?

I had written before on those fluorescent curly Q bulbs that were the next end-all-be-all to saving the planet. We talked about the fact that they contain mercury and, if something goes wrong, there might be a fire.

LED bulbs seemed much more promising.

Well, not so fast. First off, there is the issue of different types of LED bulbs for circuits with dimmers vs. without. How many ‘users’ of these things truly understand the difference and, how many care?

To that end, all LED bulbs entering the US market should be designed to work in either situation.

I feel a little like Ralph Nader when I mention this fact, as it seems obvious but, they should at the very least be clearly labeled.

The last batch of ‘dimmable’ LED bulbs I purchased clearly was marked ‘dimmable’ on the box, but no place on the bulb itself did it distinguish itself as dimmable.

My next nit to pick is quality control.

Out of six regular LED non-dimmable bulbs, I had a 50% failure rate.

The bulbs would either flicker or just not work.

My curiosity got the best of me.

If you notice those two blobs of solder, they are situated by the plus and the minus terminals for the LEDs. That blob of solder in the middle does not belong. In my business, we call that a solder bridge. This is incredibly shoddy work, and while the bridge is not zero ohms, it is close enough to render the bulb useless.

I have not opened the other two failed bulbs but, I can guess what I might find.

Are these a fire hazard?

I would like to believe that because these circuits are housed in plastic-coated aluminized housing that a circuit breaker might blow before the thing catches on fire.

The companies that create and sell these things need to tighten up quality control and, all of them should be made to fit into either a dimmable socket or a regular socket.

Since Underwriters Laboratories turned into a for-profit company, one must wonder who is watching out for the American public. Someone should be testing this stuff independently of company sponsors. Currently, the FTC takes complaints and tips but, to my knowledge, does zero pro-active research on something as basic as substandard or hazardous products.

While I loath bloated government, there is a need for an Underwriters Laboratories to test, check the quality, and so forth of products imported into this country.

Are they safe?

Is there lead paint?

Are they going to catch on fire?

Are they labeled correctly?

If I take the time to open the other two failed products, what will I find?

I would think that the Chinese companies would be overly careful of this type of quality. Just possibly, they know they are the only game ‘in town’ and that people will just accept the lack of value for the dollar and lower their expectations.

Maybe the Chinese should offer repair kits for their poorly constructed bulbs so those of us with the skills and know-how can fix them.

Is it worth it? Knowing these bulbs should last years, would it be worth your time to ‘fix them?’

Stay safe until we meet again.

If there is nothing new, maybe I will tell you all how to make Banana Bread.

-Cheers

Check Your Ego

Check Your Ego

I admit that I spend entirely too much time on ‘groups’ that profess an interest in one topic or another.

We tend to search for our tribe, whether that be people interested in equine activities or perhaps restoring vintage electronic devices.

Today it was a group dedicated to Heathkit.

For those of you who don’t know, Heathkit, out of Benton Harbor, created and sold well-designed devices in kit form.

If you followed the instructions, when finished, you would have not only a working device, but you would have the pride of knowing that you built it and, you would also know how to repair it should the need arise.

This person purchased an old oscilloscope from the ’60s that, by today’s standards, is worthless. This same person opened it up, showing the repair job someone did back in the 70’s ‘as depicted by the age of the components’ and complained.

When he brought it up on his variac, it still worked. After opening it, he complained about the ‘mess’ inside.  He then went about requesting assistance from everyone in the group for information on the piece and so on.

Since the internet was not around when the previous person repaired it, and it was still working today, just possibly he should re-think his assessment of the repair.

I am from the age group who taught myself electronics, built kits, and designed and built my first transmitter from TV parts.  There were no online resources as there are today.

The FCC test was in person and not multiple guess.  

This behavior is not just in ham radio groups but many others.

If you read the online comments, it would seem that narcissism is as rampant as covid.

I am amazed at how quickly the comments turn into personal attacks. Is this the new normal where keyboard warriors use speech that they would not use around their grandparents, to feel better about themselves while attacking another?

The three weeks to flatten the curve has tested my patience to the absolute limits of my medications.

Turn off the computer, the screens, and the TV when you reach that point.

Reading opinions by other keyboard warriors that incite violence on a class of people with who they don’t agree is demented, and it needs to stop.

We forget that the technology we have today is because of those that came before us. We are standing on the shoulders of giants, and yet we have narcissists like this person daring to complain about a fifty-year-old repair, that still works.  

-Best

Watch Out For Crap Like This.

Watch Out For Crap Like This.

From the early 70’s I was tinkering with electronics.  While my peers were playing ball or getting their hearts broken, I was getting shocked and talking to people all over the world.

Peering through the back of a radio or perhaps the TV, one would see all these glowing amber lights.  Soon after my fascination with the front of the radiant dial on the old floor model radio piqued, I wanted to know how it worked.

Garage sales and discarded appliances became a source of amusement for me.  Boxes of small parts from different devices soon lived in the closet, under my bed, and soon I had to pare down the collection.  A borrowed receiver, some junk box parts, and a crystal as were the rules back then, I was on the air as a newly minted Novice Amateur Radio Operator.  The glowing 6AQ5 tube was the final for a whopping 7 watts unmodulated Carrier wave controlled by the steady fist of what they used to call ‘brass pounders.’

Today, 47 years after the date, I still remember Morse code, but I must confess I have not pounded a key in eons.

Tubes gave way to transistors, which soon turned into integrated circuits. Now we have software-defined radio that minimalizes the power usage and, of course, exaggerates the complications if you need to troubleshoot it.

Time marches on. 

A man once stipulated that we stand on the shoulders of giants, and the same is true of the law of accelerated return of advancement regarding technology.

Most teenagers today have more technology in their back pocket or on their wrist than we used to send a man to the moon.  What they do with it remains to be seen but, the possibility of great things is within their grasp.

Licensing for the Amateur Radio Service is nothing like it was.  One could argue that nobody builds anything anymore, so it does not need to be as difficult as it was back in 1973.

I still tinker, albeit minimally and mostly with antenna design and theory.  All that said to get to the point of this blog.

When I purchased this switch box online, I knew what to expect.  Never in a million years would I push any wattage through this thing.

When I wiggled the wires a number of them came lose of their own accord, cold solder joints.
Here is the inside of the box. Wow.

In my office resides a desk, with several different apparatuses on it.  From state of the art to antique, I still listen to and ‘mess’ with them on occasion.  You see I always appreciate the glow from the dial light of old shortwave radios.  I wanted a way to control the RF from my antenna to the different devices without messing with cables.

The name of this device is miss-leading, and I am confident if put to the test, they would call it a ‘name’ and say they never meant it to handle 1000 watts. With the wording CB in the advertisement, they could argue the illegality of using more than 12 watts PEP ergo ‘what were you doing with this thing?’

A smart person could take them to task, in that this thing would perform miserably at 27mhz.

Whoever designed it had a handle on DC but not AC.  The integrity of the 50 ohms impedance is violated, making this a horrible device even for switching between receivers.  Again I knew what to expect when I spent the $20.  Why then did I buy it?

IMG_5771

Real coaxial switches have the same essential components, they are just well thought out.   If you look at the contact on the switch, you can tell that any kind of wattage would burn the connections and or arc over to the next.  In its original construction, I would not even use it for low wattage use.

Below you can see how I modified it with coax and common grounds.  One last modification is to add a ground lug to it, so I can ground the box to earth ground.

IMG_5774

Enjoy your hobbies, and be very wary of crap from the Far East.  While it is all made there, ‘for the most part,’ some companies have a reputation at stake, while some just want to sell cheap junk.

In its original form, it was just that, junk.

-Best

Scott

 

Is the lowest price always your best option?

Is the lowest price always your best option?

 

From time to time, I share with you pearls of wisdom learned through the school of hard knocks.

We all do it.  We look for the best price on things from hotels to rental cars to stuff.  Consumables like food from reputable sources you might do better at a big box store.  When shopping for groceries, I pay attention to coupons vs., the added luxury of services that are offered.

Some stores are pushing the industry of shopping for groceries on-line. They do this by one checker open while ‘nudging’ you to take your selections to the self-checkout, which rarely work correctly.

Sam’s has probably one of the better systems. Using the bar code reader, one can efficiently facilitate their purchase, and I would add a giant asterisk to this statement.  I know few people who want to price, bag and pay for their things, only to be stalled exiting the building, waiting in a long line for some person to take forever to do an inventory of your items, and all of those people in front of you.   This, to me, is a bridge too far, especially when I already pay a membership fee.  All things considered, I will not renew.

While big-box stores killed the mom and pop businesses, so too will the likes of Amazon and other online services, kill bricks and mortar establishments?   The impetus for doing such things comes down to the P&L and morons seeking 15 dollars an hour salaries for entry-level jobs.  They obviously have stopped teaching economics in school, and they surely have stopped teaching critical thinking.

 

In my line of work, I provide several services.  One of them which is the reason for this blog is File Date Stamps.  I also offer other legacy products to municipalities and other businesses who use such things. I serve a dying industry, as we move to do everything electronically.

Leaving forensic computing and disaster recovery my next items to push, those two are also outsourced to other countries who can exploit people without unions and protestors to raise hell.

The Rapidprint and Widmer products have been around for well over thirty years.  Both are robust machines that serve many customers.  With minor attention to replacing ink ribbons and not knocking the things on the floor, they require little maintenance.  Some customers who use these hundreds of times a day, however, cause wear and tear that at some point needs to be addressed.

The year wheel last ten years and I have replaced year wheels in the same machines three-times and counting.  Where else can you purchase a machine that lasts over 30 years?

As a highly trained engineer, my company handles thousands of these clocks in a service capacity.  The catch is this.  Companies must make a profit, or we will not be around to service them.  I could teach someone how to repair them in hours, what takes decades is knowing from the very feel of the wheels if they are right or not.  From the look and sound of the imprint, I can tell you what is going on.  That expertize takes years.

I know of a customer through one of my vendors who purchased a machine online, at some cheap price.  The dealer is responsible for the warranty issues per our contract with the vendor.  That is part and parcel of how this all works.  They allow us a discount, and we must absorb the cost incurred with warranty issues… from the machines we sell!

This customer purchased this machine from some internet-only dealer and had an issue and was told to deal with the vendor.  Nope… not the way it works, and they were not happy.  I don’t blame them but… they looked for the lowest price and not reputation. Sending it to another vendor for repair, eating the cost, the machine broke once again sometime later.

Without going there to see if it is something they are doing, vs. a botched repair job, the vendor would have little way of knowing.  Offering to repair it for them at no charge, the customer balked at the cost of shipping it back to them.

Contacting me, who is in Texas, I told them I would provide the service at no charge, even though I did not sell the machine.  The idea behind that decision is to take care of the customer, and have that customer from then on.   Word of mouth is how I grow my business.  Can I do that for everyone… no?

Doubling down on the $20 shipping charge to get it to me, they are now in some stalemate.  The vendor offering to assist them did not sell it to them, and it is not even their brand of equipment. This vendor goes well out of their way to help customers with the same goal in mind, turn them into their customers.

The original seller is who they should be contacting, but of course, they don’t provide any service, so the customer’s ‘good deal’ has backfired, even though another vendor and I have offered to rescue them from their dilemma.

Is it wise to purchase a machine from some internet vendor that does not provide service?

“Do you feel lucky???”

A word about shipping…

Having intimate knowledge of the different carriers, your package, whether it is diapers or light bulbs, is dropped up to six feet several times during its voyage from the dealer to you.  The heavier the parcel, the more likely it is to be damaged.

As a rule, I insure packages sent by me.  I have had them crushed in the process.  One machine which was packaged in the factory shipping box, had the metal casting broken.  The problem is most customers are not aware of the claims process.

If you get a packaged that appears damaged, take pictures of everything before you open it, and then through the process.  If there is damage to the ‘item,’ you will need those pictures along with the original packaging to file a claim and get reimbursed.

On rare occasions, the jostling of the machine through the shipping process can cause internal damage.  If your new or repaired device does not function straight out of the box as intended, there is a good chance that in the process the ‘500-pound Gorilla’ got too exuberant.  Machines sent from my shop are bench tested for two weeks before they are shipped.  My percentage of warranted returns is less than 2%, and in every instance, it was due to shipping and handling issues.

In known bad areas of the country, I will double box the machine.  Please let us know if you suspect your postage, UPS or Fed X handlers employ the proverbial gorilla.  The cost of double-boxing is minimal, considering the frustration of getting a broken machine back from a sale or service.  We have all seen the video where the delivery person launches your package toward your door from over twenty feet away and leaves.  Those warehouses are hot or cold, and those people don’t have too much skin in the game.  Much like the baggage handlers at the airport, they don’t seem to care.

If you are in Louisiana, you probably remember this event from the picture above.

We very much enjoyed meeting those of you that were there and look forward to serving your needs without pestering you.

We are planning a tour of your state in the upcoming months.  Please take a look at my site for products and or services and let me know if you would like a visit.  www.timedok.com  Unlike most, I will not bother you if you don’t need what I offer.  As a businessman, I too have to screen calls and ignore the 866 numbers.

Most of my customer base is word of mouth, and that bodes well for what I do.  I will go the extra mile for my customers… If you would like that kind of service, check us out… It is DOK with a K!.

 

Cheers!

Who is Steering the Ship?

Who is Steering the Ship?

 

  • Is the captain of a company the CEO?
  • Is it the board of directors?
  • Is it the Stockholders?

I would argue yes and no.  The customer most probably guides or “tugs” your ship through the turbulent waters of the industry you are in, more than you might think.

Since the driving force is out of your complete control, can your ship stand up to the pressures of high winds or traversing into territories which are uncharted? Is there a reef ahead waiting to break the spine of your vessel? Will Sirens lure your men into a false state of complacency?

While need necessitates the possible paths that you as the captain choose to follow, the infrastructure and robust nature of your data systems will be part of the viability of your success.

Companies must be robust enough to change directions or take on more massive task as the customer demands.  As an SME in Data processing (Information Systems) and Disaster Recovery, frequently I find through the audit process that the ship is traversing the waters without a rudder, and an engine that is held together with duct tape and bailing wire.

Some of the critical problems in this industry are human nature, underperforming CIO’s, and lackadaisical staff. Other issues often include a CIO taking on the job of CFO.

Encouraged by upper management to rain in cost, the CIO might look for ways to cut the budget using poor quality sheets, and used line, taken from derelict ships that have already made their way to Davy Jones locker.

When the proverbial fork in the road or in keeping with the metaphor, when the winds change, will your company be ready?

Often, Board Members or CEO’s look at disaster recovery like insurance.  It is much more than some policy that you purchase.

When you bring in a person or company, who specializes in Disaster Recovery many things happen.

The first two are a risk analysis and an audit of how you currently do business regarding Data processing. The scope, of course, can be more than just your data processing capabilities and often it is expanded to include all functions of your company.

Depending on the size of your company and its complexity this could be a project for a consultant, or it might include one or more FTE’s that maintain your ships viability into perpetuity.

While the Risk Analysis may or may not be a surprise to you, the audit will almost certainly be a surprise.  Nobody wants someone poking around in their business.

Frequently those in charge of the department will make themselves scarce.  While weekly meetings and deliverables are a must, I often find that an audit shakes things up, and that can be a good thing.  This process also exposes any weak links in the proverbial chain.

Your IT department is a dynamic part of your company and often is the engine which drives your ship. While frequently looked at as a cost center, without it, your company I dare say would die on the vine or flounder.

In the final examination of your company, we will discover if you are ready for the next opportunity or the next fork in the road.  We might also learn that you are treading water.

When the prevailing winds shift directions, will your ship be able to adjust?

Smooth Sailing!

© All Rights Reserved 2018

Scott Taylor

When Should You Replace Equipment and Why

When Should You Replace Equipment and Why

 

 

Today I thought I would talk about a subject that is near and dear to the hearts of most CFO’s.  Money and budgets.

 

In the IT ARENA as it were all hardware has a lifespan.

 

  • Desktops 5 years
  • Laptops 3 years
  • Tablets, PDA’s and phones about 2. *

 

HAM or Hardware Asset Management is close cousins to SAM or Software asset management.

Many that I deal with in this industry are loath to do either of these.

 

Why?

What seems so intuitive to a business minded person is out in left field to the IT Manager.

 

While most hardcore IT people will undoubtedly have the updated newest most magnificent PC at home, they will be loath to keep the hardware at work current.  Either budgetary constraints, lack of planning on their IT staff, laziness or foolishness on managements parts while keeping the dinosaurs alive.

IT is a moving target.

One of my clients was experiencing a strange anomaly on one of their machines.  I was there for other reasons, and they ask me if I had ever seen anything like it.

 

On occasion, the mouse pointer would change with some strange addition to it, making the original tip Indistinguishable from where it should be pointing.

 

Nobody has seen everything and the same is true for me.  Offering my services, as they did not have the time for this, I did the usual stuff.

After hours of doing my routine including removing the hard drive and running scans on it outside of its operating system, the problem looked more and more like hardware.  Faulty graphics adapter perhaps.

After moving the PC into the shop, the problem disappeared.

Going back to the work area where the PC was, under the desk was an old UPS.  Taking the UPS into the shop and checking it out, I soon discovered that the sine wave of 60 cycles was anything but clean and, it was not holding the right voltages even though the battery was good.   Upon further investigation, I learned that they had a routine of replacing batteries in old UPS’s and putting them back out.

Putting a new ups under the ladies desk, solved the problem.  It was a $79 solution which should have been automatic.

I don’t want to go into the weeds here, but electronics have a lifespan.  Things called MOV’s for one (metal oxide Varistor) are sacrificial devices that are designed to clamp power spikes keeping them from going downstream, in this case, into your PC and monitor.  They have a finite lifespan.

UPS’s or Uninterruptable power supplies are insurance.  When the battery dies, replace them.

Recycle them after you remove the battery and dispose of it accordingly.   I would bet that all over every office building they have surge protectors that are no longer functioning.  For the same reason, they too have an MOV across the 120V AC line.  They die!

I have written about PC’s lifespan before, so I don’t want to repeat myself.

Hardware Asset Management protects the company in many ways.

You should never put an old machine at someone desk having them limp by with a clunker when they need a Corvette. The software today is memory and CPU intensive with the ever growing demands of anti-virus software and the numerous updates, it is worse.

Soft dollars are real.  If you have employees that cannot work because their network is down, that is real money!

Employing a good software deployment strategy along with keeping the same model of machine in the business is wise, and worth looking into.

Software and Hardware management are critical pieces of a business strategy.

One client I had, bought whatever was on sale on New Egg.  Support was a bloody nightmare and oh by the way, why do you think it is on sale?

Always purchase from a VAR, and build that relationship with them.  You may need them one day!

Leasing vs. owning is worth looking into for many reasons.  Bottom line, you change out the PC’s every few years, and you get the same PC to support throughout the company.

The clunkers end up on eBay and eventually, someone somewhere will be playing solitaire on it.   Today’s Corvettes are tomorrow Clunkers, simple truth! 

Depending on the size of your company software licensing needs to be evaluated and care taken to make sure that you are in compliance. An enterprise license is excellent to have if you are large enough. Software and licensing are evolving daily it seems, with lease being the operative word.  Subscription services much like antivirus software is commonplace, ensuring a revenue stream for the developers.

Gone are the days of buying a box of software with a few floppy disk and using it forever.

I was visiting some friend when I saw an old 486 computer sitting on his mother’s desk.

My first computer was a Kaypro, and I went through the 8088 @4.7 mhz to GHz and beyond.  To see the old 486 running with Solitaire on the screen and windows version three, you could see the mindset and how it evolved.

I recently trashed (recycled) a bin full of disks with programs, backups, and god only knows what all.  The next week I tossed an entire bookshelf full of technical books from Novell to MSCE windows NT stuff.  Thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours studying in the bin.  SAD

Your PC is not too dissimilar from your car.  You don’t buy it as a thing but as a resource. When your vehicle starts to spend more time in the shop than on the road, you trade it in.  The same is true of your PC, Laptop and the rest.

Somewhere in my closet I still have a 16mg stick of memory that I paid over $500 for back in the early 80’s.  $500 back then was a lot of cash.  The stick of memory is nothing.  What it did for me was why I bought it.

If you are not connected to the internet as long as you can keep your 486 running, and it does what you need it to do, it is viable.  If you still have a copy of lotus 123, you too can relive the days of / .. 🙂

 

*  2 years on the average portable device is recommended because they are portable, and often dropped.  If you budget 2 years, you can indeed budget correctly.

 

If you find my blogs helpful or entertaining, please follow me.

 

-Best

“What is one to do, shoot someone for $200?”

“What is one to do, shoot someone for $200?”

 

A recent post on a neighborhood blog elicited this response from me.  The man had some tools taken from his truck in his driveway and was upset.  He asked the question, what is one to do, shoot someone for taking my tools?

 

Here is my response to him and I think germane enough to share with you, good folks.

 

You (he) asks a good question.  “What am I to do, shoot someone for $200?”

Firstly, shooting someone for any reason will affect your life forever.  My litmus test is “Am I genuinely afraid for my life, or those lives of my family?”

If I am genuinely afraid, then the rest of this is a mute point.  Carried by six, judged by twelve, simple math really. 

The opioid epidemic is probably responsible for the increase in small crimes like this, as fewer and fewer doctors are now prescribing these types of “legal” drugs   Legal or not, people are addicted to them and addictions will cause some to sell their mother into slavery for them.  If they cannot get them legally, they will get them on the street.

That in and of itself might solve some of the addiction issues, as what they get on the street might very well end their suffering, permanently.  Not my wish or desire, just simple facts. Truth told they know the risk too and will do it anyway.  That should tell you something about their state of mind, and the risk they will take for a few tools from your truck.

Balancing petty crimes against lethal force is a tough call.  So what is one to do?

In this day and age, we have many tools at our disposal.

Alarm your vehicle.  Mine is set to lock and arm after 45 seconds, should a family member, or I forget.

“Viper Alarm from Car Toys.”

Keep your valuables out of sight.

Brand your tools or other valuables so that a pawn shop will not be interested in them.

Ring.com  makes some not too expensive devices like the floodlight cam and the doorbell.

Both are easy installs for the average homeowner.

That video goes up to the cloud and stays there for some time. In case your home is vandalized the evidence is not where the criminal can get to it.

  • You said you heard them, Dial 911
  • Turn on lights, so they know that you heard them.
  • With the Ring floodlight cam, there is a siren that you can set off.  Noises are not what they want.
  • Open your window and set off an air horn if nothing else.  Yell at them telling them the cops are on the way!  I would not use Uncle Joe’s advice about touching off your shotgun in the air.  Noise is the right idea, just not shotguns.

I would imagine that smash and grab is their ideal way to work so sound and lights will alert your neighbors as well.  Usually, they work in pairs. Getting a plate for the cops is a very good idea. Any information is valuable.  Many have cameras set up to watch the streets and alleys.  Talk to your neighbors and see if they captured anything.

If you were to go out there with your shotgun or another deadly force weapon you might very well be surprised to find that you are now in harm’s way as they had a partner.  If on the other hand, you were to injure them or kill them, some subhuman life form of a lawyer would find any family members that they had and represent them on a contingency basis to sue you civilly.   Pictures of the dead or injured person from his or her days in church, scouts, the soccer field as a 12-year-old, or as a family member and good dad or mom would adorn the courtroom.  They would paint this person as the ideal person having them appear the saint, and you the angry old curmudgeon without any heart, hell-bent on killing people with your mean old gun.  If the perp is or was a different race or gender than you, that too will factor into swaying the jury that you are now a racist or a sexist or both.

If you cannot afford a lawyer, they might very well get a judgment against you.  It is relatively simple to emotionally manipulate a jury.  This would then cost much more than a few hundred dollars in tools. As it is a civil case and not a criminal case, no free Lawyers for you.

If you can afford one and you had best be able to, it will cost you no less than $5K on a no bill.  The process will go on for months, and it will consume you.

“What is one to do?” You asked

Good luck, I hope that you or our neighbors find some of this information helpful….

Full disclosure, I have no vested interest in any of the products or companies mentioned. I also do not believe that all lawyers are sub-human life forms. 🙂

 

-Best

https://drugabuse.com/

https://ring.com/

https://www.viper.com/

 

Ready, Fire …Aim

Ready, Fire …Aim

After the recent storms, one might have guessed that my phone has been busy.  Firstly let me say that Disaster Recovery by its very title is a bit of a misnomer.  While I have some abilities to recover lost data using some forensic skills developed over decades of twiddling bits, that is not really disaster recovery.

Disaster Recovery and business continuity are about planning for an event which may or may not happen.  The “plan” assumes that your business systems will be affected negatively and puts forth a tested strategy to recover from the said event.

With the recent devastation by hurricanes and earthquakes, one would think that those businesses not affected would be learning from those that were.  If you search my blogs on this site, you will see that I have laid out

Do not ask him or her, are we covered just in case, ask them specific questions laid out in this blog here.

Yes is not a satisfactory answer, demand the details and the proof.  I don’t care how much of a friend he or she is, demand the evidence.  The devil is in the details, and the last thing you want is a bunch of excuses.

I am learning from phone calls that too many have been assured that they are covered, and that is very possibly why today they are looking for ways to recover data from destroyed equipment.

Disaster recovery is not some dark magic spell cast under the voodoo magic of bits and bytes in the wiring closet or back part of the computer room.  The bottom line is to test it, whatever your people come up with, check it.  Keep checking it until you can recover your business with outside contractors and hardware with data and documents prepared by your staff.  There is to be no input from you or your staff during the test.  The hurricane, earthquake, fire, attack from zombies or employee error took you and them away from the scene. The plan provided must work!

This is why we who do this insist that companies use “best practice” standards in the industry when creating your individual networks and systems.

One such company has a senior IT staff littered with programmers.  These people think they know more than Microsoft.  Using kludges from Unix, Linux and other programming wizardry to subvert some of the basic tenants of networking, they have made their network so unique that it will depend on them to be there to recover.

If it is not broken, don’t fix it!

Writing programs that workaround things like DNS is just crazy stuff and now it is dependent on the network never changing, at all.

If your data is successfully mirrored offsite, an excellent team of engineers might get you going in weeks, not days if you have failed to follow best practices.  While your data might eventually be usable, you and your company will be on the sidelines as most businesses do not recover from such a catastrophe.

Folks I have been at this since 1982, I have learned a thing or two in those years.  Ask your team the questions or be prepared for unpleasant surprises should you ever face a business stopping event.

Got to go and explain once again what disaster recovery is and is not.

-Best