Get YOUR Religion OUT of my HEALTHCARE!!!

This is probably more of a rant, but I just have to respond to this insanity that was the supreme court’s decision to allow Hobby Lobby to opt out their employees from birth control coverage.  Unbelievable!!!!  This sounds more like a subversive means of employee discrimination allowing employers to say, “You can work for us, but only if you share our religious beliefs regarding YOUR healthcare.”  For the money grubbing companies who feel like they want to get back at the government for regulating healthcare coverage in the first place, this is an open invitation to make up any “against my religious beliefs” nonsense they can think of to allow them to drop healthcare coverage for their employees and save themselves a few bucks.   This is what I think… “SCREW YOU…  HOBBY LOBBY!!!!”  and any other company that tries this maneuver.  If you felt THAT strongly about where your money went or where it came from you should be screening your customers for their beliefs.  Could you imagine a Hobby Lobby cashier saying, “Before I ring this up can you please tell me if you use birth control?”  I’ll bet the owner of Hobby Lobby has no problem TAKING money from the infidel.  What a hypocrite!   I plan to make a list of shame for all these companies and keep it here.  If you find any and can provide some source verifying the data, PLEASE send it to me and I will add it.  Let’s use the consumer power we have to boycott these companies that would deny health care based on so-called “religious beliefs”.   THE LIST OF SHAME: 1. Tyndale House 2. Freshway Foods 3. Johnson Welded Products 4. Willis & Willis PC 5. Trijicon, Inc. 6. Barron Industries 7. Midwest Fastener Corp 8. Electrolock Inc. 9. Zumbiel Packaging 10. Encompass Develop, Design & Construct, LLC. 11. Holland Chevrolet 12. Autocam Corporation 13. Dominos Farms 14. Mersino Management 15. Eden Foods Incorporated 16. MK Chambers Company 17. M&N Plastics 18. Mersino Dewatering, INC 19. Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc., 20. Truine Health Group 21. Grote Industries 22. Tonn and Black Construction 23. Lindsay, Rappaport and Postel LLC 24. Hart Electric LLC, 25. Ozinga Brothers 26. O’Brien Industrial Holding 27. American Pulverizer Company 28. Annex Medical Inc 29. Sioux Chief MFG. Co, Inc. 30. O’Brien Industrial Holding 31. Bick Holdings Inc. 32. SMA LLC 33. Medford 34. Feltl and Co. 35. Randy Reed Automotive 36. Doboszenski & Sons, Inc 37. Hastings Automotive 38. Stinson Electric 39. Hercules Industries, Inc. is 40. Continuum Health Partnership & Conessione 41. Cherry Creek Mortgage Co. 42. Beckwith Electric Co. 43.  Geneva College 44. Weingartz Supply Company 45. Sharpe Holdings Inc.   NON-PROFITS:  (In my opinion, these still have no excuse…  You want to have “corp” status, you provide healthcare.  If it conflicts with your beliefs then talk about it with your employees.  Don’t take it to court.) 46. Catholic Benefits Association 47. Belmont Abbey Coll. 48. Wheaton College (Illinois) 49. Roman Catholic Archbishop … Continue Reading →

Practical Entanglement

I have heard a lot recently about particle entanglement and wanted to make sure that people didn’t get too “entangled” in all the technical mumbo jumbo.  I wasn’t able to find too many articles online that dealt with the important part of the breakthrough.  Most of the articles had to do with saying Einstein was wrong and focusing on the “spooky action at a distance” nonsense.  I am going to break this down into layman’s terms (at least as far as how I understand it) and focus on the engineering aspects.  To begin with let me explain the difference between an engineer and a scientist.  A scientist’s job is to discover and to describe how nature works.  He/she is fascinated with the discovery of new things and that is enough.  The engineer, on the other hand, is interested in what you can DO with that new knowledge.  He/she says, “Wow, that is really neat, Mr. Scientist, but, so what?”  If the new knowledge provides no practical application then it is merely academic to the engineer and serves no purpose other than to enlighten.  This is not intended to make the search for truth and knowledge trivial.  It is simply a different point of view.  Keep in mind, without the scientific breakthroughs, the engineer would have no practical knowledge to work with in the first place.   So, while I have read a lot lately on “Particle Entanglement”, I wanted to focus this article on “Practical Entanglement”.  The thing that makes the recent work done by TU Delft: http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/7708/Teleportation-of-Quantum-Data-Has-Been-Achieved.aspx   IMPORTANT is not the whole proving Einstein wrong…  I could care less.  It’s that they somehow figured out how to change the spin of one end of an entangled particle and then detect the “instantaneous” change at the other end.  Now, if I have jumped too far ahead, please, Google “Particle Entanglement”.  There are a dozen very good explanations.  I don’t plan to explain it here.   So let’s concentrate on the important part of what this means.  This is the PRACTICAL part.  If they figured out how to change the spin of one end of an entangled particle, which essentially has two states (call it “up” and “down”), then read the change in state of the other end of the particle and these two particles are separated by a great distance, then they will have completely revolutionized the computing and communications industry.  This is because the change in state is practically INSTANTANEOUS.  They have measured the change (or transmission of data) to be at least 10,000 times faster than if they had transmitted the data using radio (or light).  This was over a distance of about 10 feet.  Their next test it to separate the two entangled particles by almost a mile.  There are a couple other things to understand…..  Our current means of transmitting data requires line of site, since the radio waves must travel from the transmitter to the receiver.  My understanding of this technology is that since … Continue Reading →

Worried About Dropbox? Get OwnCloud!

After using Dropbox for years, I finally hit the 5G free limit.  I looked at the prices and while they are fair, it hurts to pay for something I know I can do for free using rsync or a simple FTP.  In this case, I got lucky and found that ownCloud is even easier to use than ever before, and does all the same things Dropbox does and more. Since I do practically everything in a VM, the first thing I did was spin up an Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop, go to the http://www.ownCloud.org web page and following the links for installing the DIY server edition.  Thank you, OpenSuse for hosting the install packages!   http://software.opensuse.org/download/package?project=isv:ownCloud:community&package=owncloud   I drilled down and got myself to the appropriate version of Ubuntu (and don’t worry, I know everything says xUbuntu, but they don’t mean Xubuntu, they mean any Ubuntu flavour….LOL). From there, this website provided the best instructions for me, although it is written specifically for using a VPS on DigitalOcean.  Still, most of the instructions apply for someone hosting their own ownCloud server.   https://www.digitalocean.com/community/articles/how-to-install-owncloud-and-configure-owncloud-apps-on-an-ubuntu-12-04-vps   Once I got this up and running, the next thing to do was uninstall Dropbox on my laptop and install the ownCloud client.  I got this from www.ownCloud.org as well.  After I got the ownCloud client going, it wanted to sync the whole account.  I didn’t want this and tried to stop it and remove the default ownCloud folder, but it basically hung.  After doing some research I found that the best practice is to quit the sync client and then open it back up, then immediately go to settings and pause the sync.  THEN, remove the default folder and create the new one.  I chose my Dropbox folder.  Why not?  It’s already there and it’s already where I put all my stuff.   The last thing to do was set things up on my phone.  I have an Android phone and the ownCloud client is in the App Store, so again, no worries there either.  Once it was installed and I logged into my server, BAM! all the dropbox files were available.  And don’t worry, it doesn’t download the files to your phone unless you tell it to.   I finished things off by adding linked folders on my server to my fileserver, setting up SSL and configuring the automatic camera upload feature on my phone, but it was all downhill from there.   If you are looking for an alternative to Dropbox and want to be in complete control of your data, I suggest you try it.  Have fun!

The ultimate pet… The dat?

I was visiting with my brother and sister-in-law over the weekend and they have three cute little dogs.  I am more of a cat person, being used to the low maintenance of the feline pet, but couldn’t help appreciating the smothering love these dogs gave their owners and anyone else, once they got to know you.  They have a shitzu, a morky (maltese/yorky) and the offspring of the two breeds (a mitzorky?)  So these are all very small breeds.  Probably smaller than my cats.  I consider this to be a plus.  These dogs are also very hairy causing me to ask about the shedding, but no, they do not shed.  They’re actually hypo-allergenic and do not shed.  Not believing this I had to look around the house, but to my surprise there was no hair to be seen.  This started sounding pretty good competition for my favoritism toward cats.  But alas, they started barking….  This ruined everything, but did get me to thinking…. Why can’t we create a loveable, non-shedding, non-barking, adoring, low maintenance, self potty training, ultimate pet?  With all of our genetic research and cloning technology we should put it to real practical use and somehow take the best of man’s best friend and our favorite feline and create the perfect pet…..  The cog!…  No….. That’s no good…. wait…. the dat!  Yes, the dat! Think about the fact that we already genetically manipulate these animals through breeding.  In fact, we have been doing it for centuries.  I am just suggesting we take it to the next level.  Sprinkle a little fun-loving friendship with a little crapping discretely in the sandbox convenience and what a wonderful pet you would have.  I am sure once we isolate the best genes we could really raise the bar and create a whole group of combinations of traits tailored to the owner’s preferences.  Sort of like Gattica becomes Cattica.  As long as we are careful not to create the ultimate predator that comes back to kill us all, we should be fine.      

Heartbleed – NOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Wow, some big news hit the computer security industry recently.  It turns out when the mostly unused heartbeat feature built into OpenSSL IS used the server returns a packet LARGER than what was sent by the client.  This wouldn’t be such a big deal except the portion that is larger contains a snippet of recently used OpenSSL memory from the server.  So, the word is that the OpenSSL developer’s decided to write their own memory allocation manager instead of using the system allocator and as a result the memory wasn’t completely random or initialized, but instead contained actual recently used UNENCRYPTED data from the OpenSSL application.  It has been proven that it is possible to extract not only user logins, but also the actual certificate from the memory leak that is returned to the client.  This is absolutely CRAZY!!!  I have updated all my servers and am good to go, but the bigger concern is, did anyone else know about it before it was revealed and actually get certificates for bank servers and the like. Without actually knowing, since using this “attack” leaves no trace, the only assumption that can be made is that the certificates HAVE been compromised.  How will the certificate providers ever keep up with all the new certs they will have to create and all the old ones they will have to revoke?  This is going to cost a fortune.  UGH!

Steam on Ubuntu 14.04

I went ahead and installed Steam on my new Ubuntu 14.04 installation by downloading the .deb install package from the Steam website and running it.  While the installation did seem to hang at first and I even started looking online for alternative methods of installing Steam, when suddenly the installation began to execute and everything worked.  All that was required on my part was some patience.  Now my Steam account is up and running and I am back Racing the Sun.  I have set up my Owncloud sync client on the box and have my Gmail account installed in Thunderbird and working.  Still need to get VMPlayer installed, but so far so good.  No issues with Ubuntu 14.04.

Ubuntu 14.04 Has Been Released

I kept checking and checking all day and finally they had the download linked on the main Ubuntu.com page.  I quickly downloaded it and promptly installed it into my new 250G SSD.  The very first thing I noticed is that the keyboard backlight function keys now work…. WOOHOO!  So far it seems to be pretty snappy and I will still need some time to customize everything and get my software all reinstalled, but it’s working well and I should be able to stick with it. The only con is that there is no Steam package yet available from the Software Center.  It looks like you can install it by running the .deb file from the Steam site, but I am not sure I want to do this yet.  I would prefer to see Steam in the official Ubuntu Repository for 14.04 before hacking it into my system. I still see the sites where people claim to have problems with Ubuntu and I just don’t get it.  I am not sure what they are doing that I am not.  Probably installing PPAs and .debs from websites and hacking up their system or taking advice from “Linux gurus” and hacking up their system from the command line.  I think if you owned a MAC you wouldn’t try doing these things.  What makes someone immediately want to hack up a Linux system?  Well, it works for me and I hope it maintains enough popularity to continue to be supported, because I love it.

Lunar Eclipse 2014

My wife is an amateur photographer who took a series of pictures back in 2010 of the Lunar Eclipse.  I can’t remember if there were any predictions regarding the end of days that would come as a result of that Lunar Eclipse, but the time has come again, for another.  As “rare” as people say lunar eclipses are, they are actually quite common in astronomical terms….  Sometimes happening twice in a single year.  It’s that time again and I just peeked my head outside to see a completely cloud covered sky.  We will still set the alarm for 1:00am and see what we see. In case we don’t see anything, tonight, here is the feature photo she took in late 2010: If you are fortunate enough to be able to see the Lunar Eclipse, just remember, this is not a sign of anything other than that the moon goes around the Earth and they both go around the sun and sometimes they cast a shadow on one another just as two dancers might shadow each other as they twirl around the dance floor.  The moon cares even less about human events than does the Earth.  We are all quite insignificant in comparison, but at least we get to gaze upon it, question it and enjoy the beauty of it.  There aren’t too many things that can do that in the immediate vicinity.

Changed the Theme of My Blog Page

Today, I updated the theme of my blog page to something a little more appealing to me.  I had no idea how easy that was going to be.  I even locked myself out of the account at one point and figured out how to get into the MySQL database and change the password from the SSH access.  This took some piecing together from different forums and online manuals.  I have learned a lot, but now it is getting late.

Windows XP is Dead… Switch to Ubuntu!

I have been using Ubuntu for the last 4 years.  It works great.  I still have to use Windows at work because there simply aren’t any Linux versions of the proprietary software I am required to use and our IT department hasn’t gotten back to me about the possibility of virtualizing my Window’s environment.  I think they are worried they will have to support two OS’es on the desktop or they simply are not familiar with Linux.  Oh well.  I still use it exclusively at home.  In fact, I am using a Samsung Ativ 7 with Ubuntu 13.10 on it and everything worked out-of-the-box right after installation.  No tweaks required. I regularly install the OS on old computers for novices to use who just want to browse the web, buy something on Amazon or email their kids.  It just works and no viruses or malware or degraded performance overtime or any of those other Window’s issues. If you are going from Windows XP, give it a try.  Use the Software Center to install new apps, and run your apps from the Launcher.  Stay away from all the nonsense on the forums that may tell you to change the desktop manager or put another distro on your computer until AFTER you feel comfortable with Ubuntu and you feel adventuresome. Come at it with an open-mind.  Things will be different.  Before you start looking online for ways to modify it so it behaves more like you want (or are used to), I suggest you get used to how it works before potentially breaking it.  No one buys a $2000 Mac and then says, “I wish when I pushed a window to the left it would snap like it does in Windows.”  They just deal with the differences.  After all it’s not Windows. With that said, once you get comfortable, Linux distributions have the most customizable desktops of all the OS’es.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  But for those who are up to the challenge and love their computer it can be well worth the effort for a beautifully customized system. Read more: http://www.extremetech.com/computing/180291-with-the-death-of-windows-xp-now-is-the-perfect-time-to-switch-to-linux