Entries from March 2008 ↓

Cedar Desk Lamp with Dimmer

Two years ago I began building ‘STUFF’ out of cedar. I found that I could buy an eight foot, rough cedar, 2X4 post at Home Depot for about $5.50.

Once I got the thing home I would cut it up on the table saw into 2 inch by one inch 8 foot sections. I trimmed off the rough sides, cut out any knots and imperfections, glued some of the pieces together to make 2X2 inch posts or six inch square sections 2 inches thick or any other size that came to mind.

I liked the way plain varnish darkened the cedar and brought out the beauty of the wood without need for stain.

I began building floor lamps and desk lamps. Each made from 100 percent cedar, even the shades. Those very thin trimmed rough sections ended up making perfectly good lamp shade material.

Recently I came into possession of a small table lamp that was a touch on, touch again to make brighter, touch a third time to make brightest, and touch again to turn off. It soon became one of my favorite lamps until recently the touch mechanism quit working. Touch it as you may it remains on bright. After I could not get the base appart, I gave up on this six dollar thrift shop item.

I retired it to temporary spare computer service. The shade attaches to its light bulb with a wire hoop. I turn the hoop clockwise, seating the bulb to turn it one. Turn it counterclockwise, unseating the bulb to turn it off. It never had a real on/off switch. Just the high tech touch on/bright/off function that quit working. Now it has a really low tech but effective way of turning it on and off. Very primitive but not as bad as unplugging it and plugging it back in.

Now I needed a replacement.

Several months ago we replaced eight 100watt ceiling mounted wall washer spots with compact flourescents.
The first thing we noticed was the new compact flourescents do not work well with incandescent dimmers. The dimmers were replaced with ordinary switches.

Not wishing to discard perfectly good incandescent dimmers, I decided to use one to invent an new desk lamp. One that had a dimmer feature.

I used my fostener bit assortment to hollow out the base of one of the desk lamps. Then I mounted the dimmer inside the hollowed out recess and glued it in with hot melt glue. Got it wired up and presto, a nice incandescent desk lamp with dimmer.

Works great and is a near perfect replacement for that touch lamp that failed.

AT&T has a Secret

We are ATT u-verse subscribers. Have been for the better part of six months now. Basic cable TV service and broadband internet.

About a month ago we got a large postcard from AT&T announcing a free weekend of HBO. It was being offered as a promotional effort presumably to show us what we were missing.

The free HBO weekend was to occur starting March 20. It is now March 29 and still no free HBO weekend. We have come to the conclusion that we are not missing anything by not having HBO.

Today we get another very large postcard from AT&T announcing that we can upgrade to a better cable service with them. I-DID-NOT-KNOW-THAT!!!! Imagine that, if I were made of money and short on brains I could pay much more for some more bad programming content. No thanks.

Just to be fair I will have to admit that the card also offered the first months additional programing at no extra charge. The card was also painfully deficient in letting me know how much more I would be paying for the extra service in the second month and all months thereafter. Guess it is a secret.

Now why do you suppose AT&T would act as though they do not want their customers to know how much more an upgrade would cost? Could it be that the price increase is not worth the additional service? Could it be that the additional service is substandard, that program material selection is not really better than the basic service.

Perhaps. When you are offering your customers an additional service expecting to charge them more money, you don’t want to scare them off by telling them how much it will cost.

Sounds to me like the kind of misdirection politicians are famous for.

So what is the secret? Seems to me AT&T is being run by politicians. Either that or folk that have similar techniques and objectives. Objectives that seem to put AT&T profit ahead of customer satisfaction. Politicians can get away with that sort of nonsense. The private sector demands better treatment. Ask those who were involved with the old Comcast cable service.

Web Mail

As far as I am concerned Web Mail is the only way to do email. I use google web mail.

Normal email is ISP specific. You set it up with an email client program, fuss with setting POP and SMTP addresses, and other stuff including getting the program to learn the difference between spam and desirable email if the software has such function.

Once you have completed the standard setup your contacts list, emails that have been down loaded, and any other email specific information is stored on your computers hard drive on the computer you used to install the email software. You now have to be physically present at that particular computer or you will not be able to use the email feature to full advantage. Not only that but you are also tied to the ISP. Change ISPs and you also need to change your email address and let everyone know about the change. That is normal, standard email.

Web Mail takes all the email stuff you normally store on your local machine and stores it for you on a server provided for that purpose. Google provides the server at no charge to you for storing up to 6gig of email data. Now it no longer matters where you are or what computer you are using. You can use any computer anywhere in the world at any time. All you need is an internet connection and you have full access to your email system.

I have been using web mail for the better part of a year now. I particularly like the way google provides spam filtering. It works well and has completely eliminated any spam.

The system here is fully implemented with its own domain name and a few special features provided through google.

As it stands the system will support 100 email addresses and provide complete control over those addresses. You can activate, delete, or suspend any and all of the 100 addresses in your system. This feature becomes more important if and when you should start attracting spam. Normally spam is handled by the web mail software without need for any attention from the user. However sometimes an address will attract spam for whatever reason. You can ignore it but it will not go away. To make it go away you have to suspend the offending address and let it run open like that for a week or more.

An email address in suspension will result in bounced messages. Every email sent to the bad address will be sent back to the originator with a note declaring the address to be unreachable. Spammers will eventually remove such notes along with the addresses causing such action. Once all your spammers get the message, you will no longer be receiving any spam.

Now, if you wish, you can restore the emal address and its account.

Landmines

Used to be you could click on a link and actually land on the site the link proclaimed. Noways the proclaimed sites are becoming harder and harder to recognize. Mainly because of google banner ads. These banner splashes are ‘in your face’ , unwelcome, distractions often advertising ‘the other guys stuff’ in a way that could easily trick the unwary into selecting unwanted, time wasting information.

That was my experience in a recent search on the web for multimedia software. After taking several promising leads from a well known search engine, leads touting xyz software company, I was presented with a large color banner proclaiming a link to zyx software company, a competitor to xyz.

Can’t help but wonder if xyz knows that those nickel a click google ads are costing him customers by taking them to his competitor. I suspect he has no idea about how badly he is getting screwed by google. He probably has not logged onto his website in months.

I am pretty sure that I am not the only unsuspecting surfer who was taken to the wrong URL.

Things used to be much more civilized when google ads were restricted to right and left columns reserved for such nonsense. I just never expected some loud, gaudy, and unruly banner clown would jump out at me like an aggressive carney barker to keep me from getting to the site I was seeking. And to do that in the center column as the first entry that shows up when the desired URL is opened is just an intensely rude and inconsiderate tactic. It is like getting spamed in real time with no defenses.

Most people know how much I love and respect spamers. Yeah, these google banner ad morons are not getting my business either and I will go out of my way to educate everyone I know.

$1000 Gold!

Don’t you wish you had some? No, I would rather own real estate or dollars that were worth something. Gold is not worth more than it was worth 100 years ago. The dollar just does not buy much these days. How much less? Well I remember when gold was priced at $25 an ounce and was used to back the dollar. This kept the government from printing more money than it had gold for backing.

Then some moron decided to sell all the gold in fort knox and start printing federal reserve notes. That prevented folk from converting their greenbacks to gold. Soon after, conversion became impossibile because the government no longer had any gold.

So now when you see gold at $1000 an ounce, what it really means is that it now takes $1000 to buy today what could have been purchased for $25 in the 1950s.

The only folk making money off gold investments are those who sell it. Even then they only make profits off the shipping and handling.

We often hear that the same $20 dollar gold coin that would have bought you a nice suit in 1850 will still buy you a nice suit today. Very true. What they do not tell you is that had you invested that $20 in a savings account in 1850, your decendents could buy the entire clothing store today.

Sometimes even historians don’t learn from history. Guess it is not good enough to know how to read. You also need to understand what is being read.

New Scams for Old

I kept getting unwanted messages from some vendors that I have done business with. Some were familiar. Others were not familiar and gave cause to wonder why they thought I would be interested in hearing from them.

Turns out that some companies automatically subscribe you to their ‘newsletter’ when you place an order. If you do not want to be subscribed, you have to go out of your way to find the elusive subscription box and uncheck it. The bottom line here is that they can send you spam and cover their ugly behinds by claiming you subscribed to receive the crap they are sending.

I consider this the ugliest of ugly fraudulent tactics. If their marketing is this devious and evil the rest of the company has to be rotten as well.

Inappropriate

When are people who go through life with broken moral compasses, going to realize that the rest of us simply ignore them when they speak of things which they consider inappropriate.

When you have nothing to tell you what is appropriate, you have no chance at all of guessing what might be inappropriate.

As always it becomes a matter of the black pot calling the black kettle black.

Being Stupid

Do you have to be stupid to do stupid things? I guess it depends on how often you do stupid things. Or maybe it is related to how stupid the deed has to be to declare someone as terminally stupid. Stupid is as stupid does? By their deeds you will know them.

Apparently you do not have to be stupid to do stupid things as long as you do not make a habit of doing stupid things. Apparently there is a danger of becoming stupid if you do enough stupid things or engage in things that are stupid beyond description. Guess maybe you could call it being Spitzerized. That is sort of like being sanforized except you still have the wrinkles you started with.

Recently I did a very stupid thing. Cruised a bunch of sites containing information on new Linux releases. Turns out there are no significant new Linux releases. Just Linux release want-to-bees offering lots of fluff and no substance. Wasting my time perusing such worthless tripe was stupid all in itself, but I did not leave it there. I replied to a pop-up proclaiming I had won a new laptop.

Yup, I entered my real name, my real address, and my real telephone number all the while picturing my bony ass sitting on the front porch waiting on a special delivery from the UPS man.

An hour later my inbox was flooded with 200 new spam emails.

No problem. Just set the filters and let google handle the spam. Heck, you can even get google to forward the spam to the FTC automatically.

Some might say that this new traffic really cannot be considered to be spam because I willingly submitted my contact information. Hmmm….maybe but there was still a high level of hopeful expectation of gain offered. The same sort of expectation that accompanies most political promises and virtually all fraud. It is similar to a devout believer describing a trip to hell as a religious experience.

The google spam filter is good and I am not sure why it is so good. Such excellence usually requires a degree of knowledge about spam that could only come for the spammers themselves. It takes one to know one. However I did not realize the accuracy of the filter before testing it to make sure no desireable mail was being trashed.

After a week of looking I found nothing desireable being trashed but I did find a lot of vendors listed that I would never have suspected resorted to spam as a means of ‘getting their message out’.

In case anyone is wondering what that message might be, here is the message that I get when I receive unwanted e-mail. ‘Hello, I am the royal pain in your ass, I am here to provide a nuisance factor to your otherwise pleasant existence, I offer you fraudulent offers that are sure to ruin your belief that people are generally good, these messages come straight from hell and are personally endorsed by the devil himself, they are designed to waste your time, waste your bandwidth, take over your computer, and generally cause as much damage as possible, thank you, call again, no never mind, we will call you again.’

Yes, that is somewhat of an over-reaction, but it places an accurate perspective on how I feel about spam. Having such a negative reaction to spam, could you guess what my reaction is to those who engage in the distribution of spam?

The trick is finding out who these miscreants are and educating them to how much they are reviled.

Turns out that is not entirely impossible. After all, when a person advertises, be the offers genuine or fraudulent, he has to identify himself, he even has to disclose where he lives.

My recent perusal of spam I receive in an effort to verify the accuracy of the google filters has revealed some very surprising names and companies. Names that I would never have thought would stoop low enough to engage in anti-social activities such as spamming.

I guess these folk do not realize that years of building positive images can be destroyed in seconds by sending even one spam e-mail. That is certainly what happens when that one spam e-mail arrives in my inbox uninvited.

I prefer to do business with vendors who value and respect their customers. Nothing good can come from dealing with the devil and his minions. Unfortunately those minions are not always readily identifiable. However, they are always identified in the spam they produce.

I guess companies can be stupid too!

What is needed is a list of companies engaged in producing spam. Perhaps under the heading of ‘Companies who believe that spam is their most important product’.

Fighting Spam

I am no longer really bothered by spam. I have upgraded to an email client that is smart enough to recognize spam and keep it out of my in-box. Sometimes it filters out messages that are not spam but those messages I want come from people that know how to get them to me. Those who don’t, really do not matter anyway.

Okay, so now I have a special ‘spam’ area which fills up with crap on a regular basis. Perhaps up to 100 messages per day. I do not have worry with them because they are not costing me anything. I do not have to read them. Just ignore them and they will go away. Quite literally, they are deleted on a regular basis automatically.

Still, I would like nothing better than to do as much damage as possible to folk that feel a need to send spam. So here is an idea that I am sure is not entirely new.

Spam is illegal. There are laws against sending spam. Some of these laws may have their own special definition for spam, but there are governmental enforcement activities designed to target spam, spammers, and fraud. How about we help them do their job!

If my email client is smart enough to filter out spam, it should be a trivial task to program the client to dispose of spam in a more creative way. Like forward it to enforcement agencies tasked with fighting spam and doing so automatically without need for user intervention. I do not need to be fighting spam when my computer can do it for me. After all, spammers use computers to do their dirty work, what better way to fight them than to use their own tactics.

So, spammers beware! You are being watched. Best of all, I don’t have to do anything special to make that happen! Your spam is automatically sent to the enforcement agency. It is like you are directly sending this crap to the feds and begging them to come get you for being a spammer!

An Asylum run by the Inmates

Woke up this morning about 7:30 thinking I had plenty of time. Woke up again around 8 and realized it was really 9. I did get to talk to my normal 9am sched on 75 meters. They are fine and say hello.

We talked about what we would do with all the daylight we were saving. We finally decide the best thing to do was to turn off the lights and go back to bed. Made more sense to save electricity than daylight

Had a dream that I was attending a McCain rally. I could tell it was a McCain rally because it was raining and everyone was crying. Even McCain was crying. The entire crowd was circled around a hole in the ground. At the bottom of the hole lay a coffin that had a ‘Free Speech’ banner pasted across it.

After I woke up I began to wonder what an Obama rally would look like. Lots of happy, delerious folk talking about how they were changed. Everyone was 29 years old or younger. Some felt so good about it they passed out unconcious (drugs?). Used to be they had money. Now all that was changed and everyone was dirt poor. No more crime and envy. With everyone poor there was no need to be unhappy about someone having more than you. You gave all your money to Obama and he provided change. Glorious change! There was not a wet diaper to be found on anyone anywhere.

Then I thought about a Hillary rally. She was surrounded by deleriously happy people too. They were all happy because they had free health insurance. No health care just insurance, but you didn’t need health care because no one got sick anymore. They all had health insurance that modified their behavior so they did not get sick. Those that did not feel well did not feel well for long. Without health care they died. Everyone was dirt poor too because they had to pay up front for the free, mandatory, health insurance.

Still working on a Bush rally. With his superior view of reality, economic genious, and military strategery its going to take some particularly creative writing to pin him down.

And now for something completely different. Welcome to the tower of babble. Or is it the babbling tower of power?

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Never knew that ‘Auto’ was a language. Don’t recall pulling that one out of my rear. Perhaps it fell out on its own.