Tag: cable

The digital Era

The digital Era

The digital Era

One of my neighbors was talking via a group regarding cable and internet and what have you.  Since I took the time to write this to them I thought that I would also share this with you my “virtual” neighbors. 

Shopping Saves Money

I had Time Warner for years.  The bill had eventually reached $300 a month, the picture was hardly HD and often pixelated and too often went out.  The service technicians had been over too many times to fix it and I was over paying that kind of money for interference and snowy pictures. The Internet was slow 6mgb I think and, the two phone lines of course went down when the cable went down.

Truth be told, we don’t recognize the up time, we only really recognize and pay attention to the down time!  So when it went off or they had issues, it was an issue.  As things are “bundled” it is a real problem!

Howdy Neighbor!

Because the e-mail is also through Time Warner, now all of the communication other than the cellular is dead, if it dies for whatever reason.

While I would argue that this is a good time to pick up a book, or go sit on the porch with a glass of tea and say howdy to the neighbors, as we hardly ever meet our neighbors anymore.  We are too happy with our gadgets, and our air conditioning, another story.

Un-Bundle

The old adage about not putting all of your eggs in one basket is salient advice, and germane when it comes to communication.

Some of the easiest things to do is get another e-mail account that is not tied to your provider. Gmail, or some other freebie is a good start.  Yes there are security issues with this so don’t broadcast your banking information through un-encrypted e-mail.  I would argue not to put anything on there that you would not put on social media, but that too is another topic.

Next, as someone pointed out, who needs a land line.  POTS lines or ‘plain old telephone lines” are a thing of the past, much like pay phones.  If you really want a phone line that looks like a regular line, there are options.

First and the cheapest I have found is “Magic Jack.”  Yep, looks cheesy but for $100 for 5 years, pick your number and exchange, which is an easy choice.  Phone lines through your cable provider have all sorts of taxes and fees including *“universal fees” , which are fees tacked onto your phone line to pay for someone else’s phone.

I personally like to choose who I donate to and I don’t like to have it extracted from me, so that too was an easy choice.  No fees or other hidden theft of money with Magic Jack.

There are devices that you can get that utilize the Cell phone service and hook up to your home wiring that actually use a cell phone number as a home phone thus not doing business with the cable company in that regard.  More expensive and fees and other hidden charges will be there.  It still might be less expensive than the cable company.

There are other options for entertainment as more and more services are streaming online as someone else pointed out.  I still like the TV services offered by Verizon but, if that price gets too high, I will switch again.

Broadband is changing constantly and some say that you should get the fastest around including the company that sells it via some upgrade by some carriers on some channel.

Since most companies are using something called QoS (Quality of Service) they can actually throttle certain types of packets so, streaming video may be fast but other types of files may crawl.  This is what the whole net neutrality argument is all about.

Should NETFLIX for instance be able to pay the FCC or some other government entity to have priority traffic over some other streaming service?  Those that have a business like this lobby for it as it would make them more successful and those that think the internet should be unencumbered from government regulations lobby for neutrality.  Your online game packets should have the same priority as VOIP.  (Voice over IP)  I would argue that some companies are already doing it to some degree with or without regulations but proving it would be difficult.  Verizon has in its “fine print” an option to slow the traffic to your MAC address of your router, if you violate any of the rules on the internet such as downloading copyrighted stuff so trust me when I say this, they can do it easily.

My point to this is that I would not pay extra for faster or more bandwidth in that your “cable speed checker” may say that you are blazing but, in fact the traffic that you are interested in may be throttled back for something else.  There are other issues that could also slow down the traffic to your particular site that you are interested in so, before you buy a racecar, make certain you can use it.

Should your Internet be sold to you like water, or electricity?

There are, and have been arguments by greedy politicians and others who believe that you should pay for what you use or cause to move or transverse the internet.  Not only should you pay for your connection to, and the speed thereof, but you should also pay for the amount of data downloaded or uploaded much like cellular providers already do.  Even if the price was negligible, once they got the camel’s nose inside the tent, you would quickly find the whole camel inside the tent.  I would fight this at every turn of the road.

Network cable is not wire

Start with the basic and see if it is acceptable. Ramp up slowly and this is a biggie, make sure that the slowness that you are experiencing is not on your own home network.  Often I see companies that have paid big bucks for superfast internet access and have placed their network cables on top of fluorescent lights, or other em emitting sources.   Another huge mistake that I see often is the use of zip ties to keep them all neatly bundled.  Like building a home, make certain that your networks foundation (physical layer) is solid and installed per specifications.

Too many companies hire some handyman to install network cable thinking it is like any other kind of wire.  IT IS NOT.  There is a reason that there are so many different standards of cable and it has to do with shielding and something called TPI or (twist per inch.) Along with all of that, there is a spacer inside the cable that actually holds the different pairs at certain distances from one another as to not adversely affect the impedance of the cable.  Hire a cable specialist to do this for you; as not only does it need to be routed correctly, but it must be terminated correctly.

Threaten to Fire them

When the cable company gets too pricey call and tell them that you are going to “cancel” and change providers.  They will most probably send you to a “retention specialist” who is authorized to cut your bill, or offer you some free something or other for some amount of time.

Be prepared to cut the cable.

If you are just un-happy with the service and the retention specialist tries to low ball you, simply tell them no; and come get the stuff, or write the letter as some require etc.  I see many people bringing cable boxes and Satellite boxes and what have you to the UPS store or to the FED EX store as those folks have a contract with the provider to wrap the stuff up, and ship it for them.  Read and understand your contract before you engage the company and certainly before you terminate services.  The fine print in some of these contracts is ambiguous at best.  If I need a lawyer to look it over that is a red flag for me.  If I cannot within a few moments read the contract, and understand it completely; I am uninterested in the product.  That is sage advice that 40 years of dealing with vendors has taught me.

Important Information

A note about Magic Jack and or other VOIP services.  911 may not be a function that you have with it so remember if there is an emergency, use your cell phone.  911 is an emergency number (obviously) and when there is an emergency people often forget things like (that phone does not have 911!) when seconds count, you don’t have time to call 911 on a line that will not do you any good!

With Magic Jack they sell it with a network cable that plugs right into your router.  The problem is the cable is “flat.”  A flat cable picks up EM “electromagnetic” interference too easily and effects the performance and quality of the device.  Toss it and use a regular cat 5 or cat 6 jumper cable.

Alarm systems can be dicey with VOIP and certainly with some cable providers.  There are companies that offer cellular connected alarms and while I would not want that exclusively, I would want that as an option.  Crooks can be smart so one must be a step ahead of and smarter than them.  A good alarm company should have specialist that can make certain that if there is an issue that the police or fire or other emergency services will indeed get the call.  One other small pearl of wisdom I would pass on regarding this is simply to test your alarm once a month at least.  When you pay the bill, go test the alarm.  Make it a habit.  You don’t want to find out that it does not work, when or if you need it.

-Best

(c) All Rights Reserved 2015

Advertisements
Let’s Get Physical

Let’s Get Physical

Let’s Get Physical

Olivia-Newton-John

While a huge fan of Olivia Newton John am I; that is not what this is about.

Today I want to visit with you about networking stuff, in short the physical layer of the OSI model.

basics_osimodel

Network cable is not wire!

Well technically it is wire, you cannot simply have “Jake the handyman install it!”

More than a few of my many network installations that I have troubleshot for people involved such installations.

eww

Example one:

Company A calls me out because they have many computers simply dropping off the internet, dropping off the file servers, losing files, e-mails not downloading and the list goes on and on.

The OSI model (open system interconnect) is a hierarchical model representing the sum of how data gets from one point to another.

Layer one or the lowest layer is what I am addressing today because let’s face it, without this, ain’t nothing happening!

Bringing up a protocol analyzer it is obvious that there is trouble in river city!

musicman

Not only were there many dropped packets, tons of broadcast packets using the most basic of routing protocols looking for this or that but, there also appeared to be 5250 traffic getting into the data stream!  No 5250 emulators in the day, there were separate terminals.

tfh040708-story05-fig07

As the company grew the “cheap information officer” did not want to spend money on silly things like “hiring someone that did this for a living so…” he got one or two of his employees to improvise.

hownottosplicecat5

They did indeed.  In the computer room the cable went up into the ceiling as cat5. At the wall socket to the desktop it was cat 5.  Somewhere in the ceiling during the time of expansion someone spliced cat 5 onto cat 3 “electrical tape glob” and then back to cat 5 going to the wall.

I forgot to mention that they also shared a pair for the phone, even after they went to a digital phone system.

It is important to also keep in mind that unless you are using STP or “Shielded Twisted Pair” the cable has to be elevated away from sources of RF, EMI or other types of noise hence, the signal will be effected.  It is a good idea to use J hooks anyway, just to keep the cable from getting in the way of future work.

UTP-STPcable

The CIO was still not convinced that he should spend thousands of dollars to replace the mess so he allowed a one off repair for the most affected users.  His reasoning was that in the next few years they were going to expand and at this point they would “do it right.”  Never mind that screwed up packets from other workstations effected the network as a whole.

Soft dollars meant nothing to him as he was not the one experiencing the pain and if the President of the company complained he just simply blamed the people under him.

prog_comm

To be fair, some of the fault was theirs as they, did make the mess in order to gain favor with this idiotic boss and secondly they did stupid things like used silver satin cables as patch cables right next to each other.  Yep the terminal for the AS400 and the computer.

09-784-25W

Layer one is the bedrock.  Everything must be solid or you are wasting your time.

Company B:

“I have this huge internet pipe and it is slow to the desktop, look at this!”

Indeed surfing the web was a nightmare.

Another Jake the handyman installed cable along the same paths as the electrical lines, zip tied to fluorescent lights and put switches everywhere at the end points as they got tired of running cable as the company grew.

If that were not bad enough the switches in the computer room were all daisy chained together in the back with fiber and then, someone had patched the switches together up front as well.

A quick look with the protocol analyzer showed routing loops, lost packets and the list of networking nightmares went on and on.

This was an RF technology company so there were live RF transmissions in the building around the UTP or unshielded cable.  When expansions were needed the cables were tied together in the wall in much the same fashion as the previously mentioned company.

This company would have been better served to simply go all Wi-Fi with one of the many solution provided by different providers.  If you don’t know what you are doing, humble yourself enough to seek help!  Mistakes are costly; one of the largest dangers to company’s data today is arrogant, uninformed IT people who think that they know it all and refuse to seek help from a VAR.

In my business of disaster recovery, most of the disasters are self-imposed by “No Toes MgGrew.”  Ready-Fire-Aim!

ready-fire-aim2

Company C is pretty much indicative of a company that does not want to pay to hire it done so they hire “Jake.”  Good ole Jake has a ladder and truck and some tools to fish cables down the wall.

Jake simply bundles the cable up and pulls it from point A to B and wherever it lies it lies.  Again using the cheaper UTP he simply pulls it to the final destination and then leaves it where he is told so someone else can come in and terminate it.

The owner “has a friend” who has done this before, somewhere.

Cable plants are the bedrock of your data center and the highway with which all of your data will traverse.  Do you want multi-lane highways or alleys?

cabling 2

A word about soft dollars.

In the business world there is such a thing as soft dollars.  If your employees are not able to function because of impediments of any kind it cost you money.  If there are time deadlines and they are not met because of impediments of any kind, it could cost you customers.

6799966_orig

Business today in order to stay competitive must do as much as they can with as little as they can and that means staff, product, and infrastructure and so on.

That means that everything must perform like a Swiss watch.

Not only do policies and procedure need to be in place and proper management of your IT assets but for the rest of the business as well.

The company that waste the least in time and material will be the one that survives over the competition and if publicly traded, the one that has the highest earnings for their stock holders.

Inefficiencies in organizations like, let’s say our government cannot exist in business.  Unlike the government who simply prints more money to pay their bills; business cannot.

fedmoney5836

Whoever your CIO is should not only possess a high degree of technical savvy but, also a high degree of business acumen.

I will spare you the conversation about the differences between cat5 and cat 6 and cat6a and so forth, I am certain that a google search will give you more than you could ever want.

China_Lan_Cable_Cat5_e_Lan_Cable_Cat6_a_Lan_Cable_Cat7_CE_Certified_Cat5e_Cat6_Ethernet_Lan_Cable20126141520198

The bottom line is use STP or shielded and use the higher speed rated cable as we have no idea what the future will hold as far as data.  This cable must be terminated properly, and that is an art all of its own.

Doing it right the first time may be a little more costly than hiring Jake and ordering cable off of Amazon and switches from New Egg but, the results will be far more satisfactory.

VARS do this every day so they know what to get, and why?

-Best

Copyright 2015 Timedok All Rights Reserved

http://www.guard-protect.com

Single Point of Failure

One of my recent clients was desiging their data center and during the process of doing so, the CEO had read one of my blogs and called me in to look things over.

It is sometimes awkward for me to go into someone else’s shop and poke around as the relationship between their staff and I, sometimes is seems tenuous, if not adversarial.  Not on my part mind you; I am there to help.  “I fix things,” that is what I do.  I do ask a lot of “why questions.” which I think starts the ball rolling.

1d3c57278e64cbc3_FF_501_1432.previewgordon-ramsay-32093

The resident staff however is the expert that their boss trusts, so they “the CEO” go along blissfully ignorant of their exposures because he or she “the CEO” is not an IT person.  The resident IT people usually don’t encourage an outside person to come in “such as myself,” because of two reasons.  I think first and foremost, it is an ego thing.  They are the best at what they do and if you don’t believe them, just ask them.  Secondly, they don’t want their boss to find out just how bad things are. Or possibly their staff has no clue just how tenuous the situation really is.

wrong4wires_A_Server_Room_Nightmaretitanic_sinking

If you see any of this this in your data center or wiring closets , you need some help.

When I was working as a Manager, or Director of same, I always welcomed this kind of assistance and frequently brought it in as often times we get mired in the woods; and cannot see the forest for the trees.  I know that this is oversimplified but as a manager, I always tried to hire people as smart, if not smarter than myself.  As a manager, one gets tied up in the day to day business of the company, as well as the technology; and often times do not see what is in front of them, or, can even loos their objectivity.

If you decide to bring in someone like myself, your staff needs a heads up.  They need to be told to make themselves available.  They need to know that this person is there because you requested it, are paying for it, and expect them to work with this person as needed. This understanding up front, saves you money.

When planning a move to a new building; one can go in and design and install everything correctly the first time, much more cost effectively than going back in and re-do things later.

right 1

Notice the nice manner in how the cables are dressed and notice the Velcro cable ties on not “zip ties.”

Why not Zip Ties you asked?

fire-damage

Poor cable management and “zip ties” lead to this.  This could cost you your entire company.  

This is the charred remains of someone’s data center.

Having said that, during a data center design one of the things that is often overlooked are single points of failures (SPOF).  When designing a data center, one builds redundancy into their infrastructure as to avoid a downtime, or a total shut down.  Few people truly understand soft dollars; and how the loss of productivity effects the bottom line.

vdi10

Most everyone knows of raid, redundant switches, vmware, the cloud,  and this is about where it stops.

vmware-logoimage-cloud-computing

What about an alternate path to get data in and out of your building?  What about an alternate path or source for power?

One of my clients, (a law firm) lost power due to construction in the street below.  The UPS only held their servers up for 30 minutes or so and they had no UPS’s on workstations.  Guess what, the courts do not care if you can or can’t get to your files, your problem, not theirs! If you cannot feasibly get power to your data center from an alternate location, you have a generator or a warm site.

Backup_Generator

In their case the power took several days to get back online.  The elevators of course were not working so they had to physically remove and re-install their servers in another location trucking them down the emergency stairwell.

Failure to plan is planning to fail!

The same is true of your data lines.  Generally one installs two trunks diametrically opposite of the other on either corners or sides of the building.  If that is not feasible you look at RF links.  Yes they are slower than fiber but slower is better than nothing.

Your individual needs will dictate your level of redundancy needed.

During the design of your data center, each and every risk must be defined and be part of the risk assessment.  During a move, a site selection team must evaluate all sorts of factors regarding your data center before the lease is signed, or the building is purchased or even built, if you are going to go that way.

GreenGeeks-Data-Center10510370-the-fm200-fire-suppression-system

Data Centers large or small all should have the basic fundamentals covered.  It is your company after all.

One of my clients had me travel around with their folks to look over prospective sites.  They were a little edgy with their people that they had doing this so hiring me to go do this with them hedged their bet.  When I arrived at the first location they were ready to sign the lease.  They were not happy when I discovered that the ceiling was loaded with asbestos.  The extra cost to get someone that was certified to run cable in such an environment was over the top, not to mention that it was in an earthquake prone part of California.  There is a reason that the lease was “cheap.”  On another site the cable plant had been added to as the previous tenant grew.  They has spliced wires in the ceiling, which you just don’t do.  Some of these had been spliced to cat 3 wires.  I can well imagine what the data throughput looked like and the error rate that those persons suffered.

We start with the basics: power, voice/data, air handling.  We look at the hardware required for all of this. We calculate the power requirements and the amount of air-conditioning needed.  What about a redundant air conditioner?  How about fire suppression?  I like to install dust filtration systems, as this investment will extend the life of your equipment.  How about remote monitoring of your data center. What about security both physical and well as data?

SML-CHASSIS-4

We look at risk factors, where is it geographically?  What historic data can we find on that area regarding disasters?  I also look at permit cost, union involvement cost etc. I work with the architect and GC to make certain that all of the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed.

In 35 years of doing this I have never had a “good surprise” and my goal is to keep the customer from having a bad one.

One thing that I recommend is a sensor that “sniffs for smoke.”  This sensor triggers an emergency shut down of the UPS if smoke is detected.  Why on earth would I want to do this?

detection-smoke1

“Where there is smoke there is fire.”

Maybe, maybe not however; this equipment runs 24X7 and 2/3 of that time is unattended.  Generally, poor cable management which I see in more data centers than not, is the cause for smoke and fire.  This sensor shutting the power off to the data center stops the fire in its tracks as it generally will start smoking before actually catching fire.  This sensor hooks up to the big red button and serves as the emergency shut down if smoke is detected.  It can also be wired to the building security systems and  trigger a call to the fire department as well as sound alarms so people can get out of the building.

A lot of data centers use the cheapest fire suppression techniques out there “again designed by a neophyte.”  So, a cable rubs raw, starts smoking, catches on fire and the suppression system is activated. Water… Water and electronics do not mix.  You now have your entire data center ruined because your “people” were lazy and failed to properly dress the cables and you did not have a modern fire suppression system.  The smoke sniffer is the next best thing.  Stops the fire before the water starts.

fire-suppression-systems

The devil is in the details, and brother there are tons of details.  As part of a DR; we cover as many as we can find. Once we think we have it, we hire an outside technical staff to re-create your data center in an offsite location, with your run-book, documentation and backups.  We give them everything that we “think” they should need and then we sit back and take notes.  You’re CIO and I watch, and take notes.  We get them the answers that they need, note them, and then move on until it either works or fails.  If it fails, we do a root cause analysis, take corrective action and try it again.

Sungard

Yes, this is a shameless plug for Sungard. 

DR plans generally do not work the first time.  There are way too many details to catch them all but, as they do their thing and they hit a stopping point, we find the answer, make notes and then let them proceed until they get everything working as we expect it to be.  Then we have a Skeleton crew come in and try to work. We make notes of everything that they run into, fix what we can through the rent a geeks, and press on.

Part of the process is to determine what an acceptable down time is and that can even be broken down into individual systems.  “Payroll before sales?”

After that, we go back and alter the run book, provide more software or whatever was needed and then we get another team of rent geeks and do it again.  Same process until we get it to such a point that the rent a geek can draw on their own knowledge to fill in any holes.

An inventory of the skill set necessary for the geeks is yet another bit on information to document.

Having a disaster recovery plan, like a data backup strategy; is only as good as your last successful test.  Once you have a successful test, it is incumbent upon your people to devise a scheme to keep it updated. I do this through a process called change management.

Is this your disaster recovery plan?

dilbert

We use rent a geeks as we must assume that your staff has all been part of the disaster.  If we can make it work with technical people that you can hire from your VAR then, if there is a disaster and your staff was not involved in the disaster, your chances of a successful recovery are very high.

If you look at my other blogs regarding information technology, there is plenty of good advice out there.  If you are in need of a DR plan or someone to assist your technical team get through a migration, a move or what have you; I have over 35 years of experience, and a valid passport. I speak English with a smattering of Geek.. 🙂

Big Bang Theory cast w logo

Yes, if these were real people and not actors, I could converse with them easily, I actually know what a Higgs-Bosson is

!higgs-simulation-3

Artist idea of what it would look like.

If you are moving and need a data center designed in the new location that is probably one of the least expensive things that I do; assuming that your documentation is up to snuff.  The size of your company and time frame will determine the scope of work (SOW,) and if I will need more than myself to accomplish the task. I work with some fine people here in the DFW area, and they too can travel.  If you have a relation with a VAR already, I can work with them.  I must admit that I will evaluate them on your behalf, as I do not believe in wasting your money or my time.

My character closely matches this guy although, I am easier going and my vernacular is well suited for all people, most of the time.

Gordon_Ramsay

There is plenty of good advice here on my site, so feel free to peruse and glean what you may.  I do reserve all rights to the information contained herein, so please do not copy or disseminate without permission.  Thanks!

-Best

c All rights reserved 2014

An Open letter to those that can make a change, “You.”

Today I want to talk about the uber poor.

 Currently there exist three classes of folks; The Rich, the middle class and the poor.  I would argue that there are more than this.  I would argue that there are five classes, the Uber rich, Rich, middle class, poor and very poor.

 Anyone with over a Billion dollars is Uber rich.  When you get into this club you have enough “gold” to make the rules.

 The rich are really just upper middle class as they cannot make the rules and must live by the ones created by the uber rich however; since they are in the upper middle class they know some of the folks who make the rules and can have influence.

Before you write me and tell me uber rich don’t make the rules, I know congress makes the laws / rules but I am also savvy to Avenue K and lobbyist and who hires them…

 I am skipping the middle class at the moment to jump to the poor. 

The poor have apartments, houses, cable TV, one or more televisions, at least one computer and have most likely figured out how to get enough government assistance or other “invisible income” to make up the difference between being poor instead of very poor.  I would argue that these folks are really middle class; they for a large part just pay taxes as if they were poor or living in poverty.

Then there are the very poor, they are street folks who live under bridges and basically exist on the benevolence of others, charitable organizations or what they can find on their own.

 Now we have the middle class.  These are the folks that strive to be upper middle class or rich and really have too much pride to be anything else.  These are the people that get up every day and go to work whether they feel good or not.  These are the folks that take two jobs, take their kids to soccer, and do all of the other stuff that most do but they are driven to press on, to get ahead, to give their kids a “chance” at something better than what they have.

 Some would argue that their eye might not be on giving their kids something better but on having more “do dads, or gadgets” or trying to keep up with the millionaires.

These are also the folks who have little to no control over the rules.  These are the folks that try to vote for the right person, do the PTA thing, and use whatever influence they have to make a difference.

 These are also the folks who are most taken advantage of, not only by the rich and uber rich, but the poor as well. These are the folks who the 9000 pages of tax code screw the most because they don’t have enough power to anything about it!

 These are the folks who get the Cable, satellite radio, cell phones with data plans and other do dads to fill voids in their lives that life quite frankly is not fulfilling.  These are the folks who have the “universal fees” taken out of their ass-pocket, not knowing that they are one of the government’s ways of redistributing wealth!

 I was in a park not long ago.  While there, a guy, “street person” walked by me.  He smelled bad and was a good distance from me.  That is not however what got my attention.  He was talking on a cell phone.  He was in fact calling 911 because one of his fellow street people had taken his trash bag full of stuff or so he alleged.  I am certain that the local police were really happy that this gentleman was able to call 911 with his “emergency.”

This is the uber poor or poorest of the poor.  Not only is he relegated to living on the street, carrying his stuff in a trash bag but, he has no support system.  Even though this is Texas it still gets cold in the winter.  Instead of getting these people phones, would they not be better served with some other assistance?  Let’s start with clean dry clothes and a warm place to sleep and some warm food.  Let’s get them some medical care, including mental health.  Let’s teach them what constitutes and emergency.  While I am certain that was an emergency to him, that call could very well take away from a real life and death situation. There are other numbers for non emergency stuff and that should be the number he used. Truth be told if he had called sanitation he most probably would have learned that they pick up and discard full trash bags left alone.

Some folks are there on the street because that is where they want to be, I get that.  Some are there because of mental illness.  Some are there because they have no training to get a job or are wrapped up in some sort of substance abuse problem and waiting to hit “true bottom.” Some are undoubtedly there because of “shit happens.

These folks don’t need a cell phone or internet, they need help!  There is no money to be made in helping these folks however; giving them something tangible like a cell phone and allowing them to vote without a picture ID makes perfect sense to the government, and creates “more useful idiots.”

 The purpose of this diatribe is to offer a solution to the problem.  Unlike Washington and the uber greedy, I think outside the box.  So, take that cell phone money and cable TV money and all of those other “universal fees” that Carter started, Clinton pushed through and Obama expanded upon and do this.

 Set aside government land outside of large cities that is “farm worthy.”  Enlist faith based groups, and other groups like habitat for humanity and set these folks up farms. 

I am not talking about buying $150K tractors, just land and some modest accommodations and some hand tools while they make it a working business.  A mule pulling a plow worked for our forefathers, maybe that could be located until they could earn their own stuff.  Using the habitat for humanity model, they must put in sweat equity…  I would say they must stay clean, pass drug test etc but that is just common sense, isn’t it?

 Farming is not rocket science but, it is becoming a lost art.  Kids today who grow up on the farm are leaving it at alarming rates.  Involve the Aggies in teaching these folks the principles of farming.  As the population continues to grow, does it not make sense that we could use some more farmers?

 Offer this to the street people that don’t want to be on the street.

Offer this to the poor and downtrodden trapped in desperate situations; in neighborhoods that are virtual war zones with drug and gang activity.  Offer them a way out, a hand up.

 Find leaders among these people to self police themselves. Assist these folks to regain some sense of self worth. 

 First, get them medical help including mental and drug rehab.  Part of that is learning how to farm.  They can learn to farm, run a business and sell their product on the markets.  Subsequently they can make profits and purchase tractors and what have you.  If they could just feed themselves, that would be a huge win! It would be a “shot!”

I would also offer these types of programs to the 75 thousand currently in prison for non-violent drug offenses. Put ankle monitors on them and give them a chance to re-deem themselves.  Prison is no place to “rehabilitate oneself.”  Prison is a good place to learn how to be a smarter criminal. What if we had them help the others to become something more than a lost soul.

 If we could get 75 thousand out of prison which the American people are currently paying to house,feed and manage, as well as help the poor to re-gain their lives and self worth, would this not be “giving them a shot” Mr. President?  Would this not be “spreading the wealth,” in a way that makes sense?  

Wealth is not just money Mr. President, it is knowledge.  If I give poor people money and phones and other stuff I am enabling the poor to stay poor and in effect, I am crippling them.  I am giving them a handout, instead of a hand up!  All they learn is how to take.. Kennedy said, “ask what you can do” (paraphrased) Should we not teach them to fish?

 If I take currently non-productive people and give them a sense of purpose; is that not giving them a shot?  

Instead of kicking this can down the road people, we need to take ownership of it and make it our problem; instead of our grandchildren’s’.  We need more givers than takers and it starts now.

There are smarter people out there than I, and possibly with enough “think tank” collective from the American people, maybe something good can happen.  We have enough bad things on the news each and every day, it is time for something good, don’t you think?

Here is the challenge to you the readers.  I am not trying to get anything out of this.  This is my way of giving back. Writing a letter to the white house would end up in file 13…the bin.  One voice in the wind is one voice.  I need millions of voices.  The only way that this has a chance is to re-blog, re-post, re-tweet and make it as viral as possible.  If enough read it, someone with some “influence” will get this to the right person or people. Maybe some Hollywood type that is tired of his or her tax dollars going to keep non-violent drug offenders locked up might think outside the box as well.

Let’s give this administration a positive way that they can “fundamentally transform this country in a good way” by teaching those that need help, how to help themselves.

Yes there are details that need sorting out and I would offer that private citizens do it.  Maybe, just maybe some benevolent Capitalist might have some good ideas or contacts, or a way to help.  If the government gets involved too heavily with the details, we will have another 9000 pages of tax code, 60 thousand earmarks, amendments creating turtle tunnels in the tundra, and nothing will ever happen to help these people.  This process needs to be streamlined and someplace like Detroit might make a good pilot as that place “like Chicago” is a war-zone.

These kids need an out and learning how to take from the government is not it.  Learning how to not get shot walking to school, or how to look innocent in a lineup is not what they need to be learning.

This would also work at the state level.  How about it Mr. Perry, can you make this work and show the Country /World how Texans take care of things?

 

Some prisons have farms already, are some of those inmates candidates to teach others?

 

-Best to you and those that you care about, now get reposting… Thanks!

“Offer only good to new subscribers”

“Offer only good to new subscribers”

Image

Customer loyalty used to be important to companies who offered subscriptions to whatever it was that they sold. This could be a magazine or cable TV.

How many times have you seen a cable TV ad offering the same service that you have for less money , “for new subscribers only?”

I had been with my cable TV provider for 16 years when I realized that by switching I could get faster internet, less expansive phones service with free long distance and oh yes, every premium channel offered for half the cost of what I was currently paying. This included offers that expired in 12 and 18 months but even after the promos expired, I would still be saving $100 or more.

There are other services like satellite radio. If you call up and use the magic word “cancel” you will you will transferred to “retention specialist” who has the flexibility to make you a better deal. Why don’t they offer you a better deal to begin with?

There are other subscription services that I pay for where special deals are offered to new customers, including books. Truthfully I would like the book offered but I am already a supporter / subscriber so, too bad. I would guess that if I were to call and cancel and then sign up again, I could get the book but that is rather disingenuous, not to mention a lot of trouble.

My power company on the other hand contacted me about the time my contract with them was to expire and offered me a better deal to re-sign up with them. Had I done nothing, it would have stayed with them by default so, if you want a good power company and cheaper electricity contact me via comment.

While I realize that “offer only good to new subscribers” has become the default way of doing business, I for one think that it “stinks on ice.”

-Best to you and those that you care about !