Saturday, January 31, 2009

Micheal Phelps' bong hit photo.

Let me get this straight. A 23 year old man crashed a college party, drank heavily, took a hit off the bong, someone got a picture, and it's a big scandal. I guess it's a big deal if you're an IOC spokesman charging 5 or 6 figures for appearances, US Olympic hero Micheal Phelps.

The striking thing about the story is the polarity of the comments. Some say he's thrown away his career here. Some say he's just gotten some cred. I just hope he's not watching the next Olympics from home.

I tend to agree with conservative William F. Buckley Jr. on this one:
General rules based on individual victims are unwise. And although there is a perfectly respectable case against using marijuana, the penalties imposed on those who reject that case, or who give way to weakness of resolution, are very difficult to defend.
QUOTE: The National Review

Friday, January 30, 2009

Google Street View Roadkill

There has been a lot of buzz over the past couple of days about the Google Maps Street View van hitting a deer. I tried to view that location, but Google has blacked out the images. Someone got some screen shots and posted them HERE.

I would feel badly if I didn't see roadkill deer on a very regular basis here in Kansas City where the deer are overpopulated.

Having recently hit a deer in Oklahoma while driving home from the family Christmas, and I understand what the driver went through. In the case of the Google van deer, it got up and walked away. The deer I hit needed to be euthanized, so a fellow who saw the incident stopped and we held it down to cut its throat.

The highway patrol said it's not considered an accident, so I moved on. I stopped at a rural Oklahoma convenience store nearby to get the blood off of my hands and told the clerk I had just killed a deer and left it on the shoulder of the highway by the bridge. She hopped on the phone and called a family member to go get the meat. I'm sure it was still warm when they got it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hacker's Zombie warning!

Some lighthearted hackers changed a road sign near the University of Texas at Austin to warn of "ZOMBIES AHEAD". Cute.

Ka-lick! Cell phone bill is ridiculous.

This is the most ridiculous bill I've ever seen. It requires cell phones manufactured after its passage to make an audible click when a photo is taken. I suppose it will curb the amount of under-stall, under-skirt, changing room pictures that pop up on the internet. What kind of noise will the phone make while it's taking video? This is just silly. Rep. Peter King (R) should be laughed out of Congress. What about other types of cameras? What if you use your phone to take pictures of wildlife? What if you have an open source camera app on your phone? Surely there's no way for the phone manufacturer to prevent you from disabling the sound. Mr. King, get your head out.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Love

Well, we have a new prez. And you can buy a Chia Obama for your home. What a great gift. I hope O does well. I think there's a bit of mania over the guy, and the bar is set pretty high. I think he's going to have some difficulty keeping the ratings high. He can't sign the FOCA bill in any form, because it not only permits the freedom of choice for women to get an abortion, it inhibits Catholic hospitals' choice to not perform an abortion. The bishops have threatened to close the doors to 30% of the nation's hospitals if that happens. There's one culture war that's not over by a long stretch.
Ch-ch-ch-chia! You know you want one.

I got a kick out of Cal Thomas' first column since the triumphal entry of Obama. I can't disagree with him on all points. I also found Obama's speech to be a little harsh, with George and Laura sitting feet away, just lambasting the previous eight years for little reason except to get a crowd reaction, as if he was still campaigning. Anyway, the proof will be in the pudding. On the other hand, the Obama 2008 / Biden 2009 signs are uncalled for.

Some trivia for you: Chia Seeds are THE BEST source of
Omega-3 & Omega-6 essential fatty acids! You know you want one.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nice weather (by contrast)

Sunday: I went to the grocery store today and the place was a madhouse. The weather was comparatively nice today; 45 degrees is a lot better than 4 or 5 degress.

I had Sunday brunch with Carmen again for the third time. We combined sushi, omelets, and fresh fruit again. It's a winning combo. We looked at real estate in the afternoon, which is good for both of us. I'm into real estate, although I'm looking for the exit, and she is into interior design. Every open house has a real estate professional there answering questions. I learn something from every one of them I meet, and they learn from me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cold Winter Saturday

I just finished teaching my Saturday class. It was an easy lecture and lab. Since I have a small class this time, we are using real network gear instead of doing software simulations. That means that physical cabling problems occur, which these students have never seen before. There were a few moments where students didn't know how to proceed with troubleshooting, so I had to step in and show them how. Or I'll show them a trick or a fix that's not in the textbook. When I do, they are usually shocked and amazed at how fast I can troubleshoot and fix network problems, but I've literally seen it all before.

I found another "make money fast" scheme that's interesting. . . if you want to be a walking billboard:

WOW!! Get seen -- get paid! You can now get paid to drive your car, wear T-shirts, and more! Just join the EyeEarn Advertising Network and start earning money effortlessly while you go about your day! It's fun, easy, and no experience is necessary!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Getting the word out.

I found a way to update my Facebook status from Twitter, by allowing the Twitter application on Facebook.

With this button I created on, you can click and follow me on Twitter.

I can send a tweet from my cell phone, and everyone I know is up to date, instantly. I have never had this power before!

Falsely charged!

Some hacker charged millions of credit card accounts with a small charge from "Adele Services". Wow, if the credit card system is undermined, what then? Paypal, anyone?

I'm checking my accounts now, but I'd hope the credit card companies would remove the erroneous charges before most people notice.

I was trying to imagine a credit card free world. Have you ever tried to wire money from one bank account to another? It's a pain, even if you own both accounts. I never understood why, in this day and age, it has to be such a slow, manual process. Anyway, I love Paypal. Hey, also, I can push and pull money from eTrade easier than doing a bank wire.

Why do banks have such terrible systems? Banks CREATE the money. They should have the best systems possible.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Israel or Palestine?

The most irritating thing about the whole Israel versus Palestine situation is that our tax money funds either side. I know our tax money goes to Israel, but why should we fund either side?
"- Until 2003, Israel received approximately
one-third of the annual US foreign aid budget.
In 2005, the US gave Israel more than $2.6 billion
in aid, a budget exceeded only by US aid to Iraq.
By comparison, Jordan received $683.6 million,
Rwanda received $77 million, and the Occupied
Palestinian Territories received $348.2 million."

I'm not a Hamas sympathizer by any stretch, but this video made me think. (It takes a while to load; I had to minimize it and watch it later. Palutube is hosted in Russia.) The video is a few years old, but I'm sure the sentiments are similar today.

The next generation of Palestinians is now embroiled in hatred for Jews in general after the bombardments, and the Palestinian kids are already indoctrinated to believe that Jerusalem is theirs. After seeing all the suffering, the Palestinian girl in the video seems jaded and, well, pissed off that every house in her town, Jenin, was damaged and people she knew were murdered when Israel invaded.

The survivors live in tents, waiting for things to calm down so they can rebuild. This ain't over by a long shot. I believe the US Congress should stop dumping money into this perpetual battle. It's a waste of funds. We should be neutral, because neither side is right. I'm not saying they shouldn't duke it out and let the winner take the spoils. I just don't want to have to pay for it year after year (like since 1948). Jews and Muslims can live and work together. It happened before and happens today in other countries around the world. I've been to New York City. :-)

Random thoughts.

"Most people are so busy knocking themselves out trying to do everything they think they should do, they never get around to do what they want to do." -Kathleen Winsor

Well, mistakes I made as a landlord a few years ago have come home to roost. I don't have the cash reserves to get through this rough spot. My rental business is now a separate entity, so it's easy to see exactly how much money it bleeds every month. I'm in the process of selling the houses that have lost money and I'm keeping the profitable ones. It's a rough time to sell, that's for sure.

On the technical services business front, I'm showing a profit, because the overhead costs are minimal. In my day job, I learned how to outsource. I can get a week's worth of web development done for under $350 overseas. That's less than a day's pay for me. Setting up the server is free, and the hosting is free for the first three months. I can sell the result for $1200, and move on to the next one. I'm recording the steps to sort of institutionalize the process.

If anyone needs an Infusionsoft integration, a web store, email autoresponders, or a web site makeover, I have the means and the skills, plus experience now.

I have a super secret web project, which has never been tried. I think the development will take me a couple of months. It is also very exciting.

Yeah, the real estate business is in flux. I'll get back in when I've built up enough cash to buy houses with cash.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Venture potential.

Wow, my business plan is starting to get recognition among venture capitalists. I want investors, but I want to maintain control. What a dodgy place to be.

Raise money from Venture Capital and Angel Investors
VC & Angel Network

Get Rich Quick-aholic

I've seen a ton of cheesy, bad, over the top, make money fast web sites. If you wanna laugh yourself out of your chair, just Google "Big Ticket to Wealth Demo Flash Videos".

If you want something serious, I recommend Bill Bartmann's Billionaire U. or Loral Langemeier's Live Out Loud program. They have proven entrepreneur and business education offered that won't break the bank. In fact, they are cheaper than tuition for a 3-hour business course. They not only teach you how to make money, but also how to structure a business, how to build more wealth, and how to protect your assets after you've done so. If you don't have the right foundation in place, you won't keep the riches you've earned. A million dollars won't come to a bad steward. Why do 1 in 3 lottery winners go broke within 5 years?

Anyway, I'm following what I've learned so far so I can reach my $1M asset mark by 1/1/10. I must say, I'm learning stuff they didn't teach me in school.

The first millionaire in San Francisco, Samuel Brannan, didn't mine the gold, but he cornered the shovel market and announced that there's gold in the American River. I'm not suggesting that someone form a monopoly, just find a niche, tap into demand, and sell them what they need.

Letting go of the losers.

Becoming emotionally attached to investments is a bad thing. Looking back, the two rent houses I have on the market haven't really made me much money. I'm dumping them as fast as possible. I have some better ideas!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Best gas additive EVAR!

I've used fuel injector cleaner and gotten a tiny bit better gas mileage. I'm aware of my fuel economy, because my Jeep Grand Cherokee calculates it while I'm driving. Keeping the tires aired up helps for a mile a gallon. Fuel injector cleaner helps a fraction. This stuff added a few miles per gallon on the first use.

I'm truly impressed.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Twitter Tricks and Errata

Composing a meaningful Twitter update is like a form of poetry. I always feel like I'm writing a haiku. It's not about counting syllables; it's about counting characters. How do you make a point in 140 characters or less? It's like a lesson in headline writing.

Twitter is built around the 160 character SMS message size limit for cell phone texting. (see GSM 03.40, 03.41, and 03.38) The protocol uses a field in the SS7 protocol for call setup and teardown that is 140 octets (bytes) in size, but they cram 160 7-bit characters (septets) in there if the default aphabet is used. Some accented characters or alternate alphabets use two or three septets. Should texting cost more if you speak one of the languages which uses lots of accented characters?

I frequently run into a character deficit in the Twitter update box, then I have to edit my update down. I strongly feel that the SMS standard should have focused less on bit packing and foreign alphabets and more on message fragmentation and reassembly. Then they could have used Unicode, which contains almost every alphabet in use today. What a tragedy. U may become a permanent homonym/synonym for you in casual texting English. It may already be too late. Is spelling a new art or a lost art? I suppose if they charged by the word, people would just start leaving out spaces. In the telegraph days, people saved money by using the word "stop" instead of periods to end sentences, because punctuation was extra while the four character word was free.

Telegram rates varied depending on the distance the message had to be sent, the speed with which it needed to be delivered, and its length. A ten-word telegram sent within a city cost as little as twenty cents in the 1920s. The same telegram sent from Chicago to New York City, for example, cost 60 cents. Most telegraph companies charged by the word, so customers had good reason to be as brief as possible. This gave telegram prose a snappy, brisk style, and the frequent omission of pronouns and articles often became almost poetically ambiguous. Telegrams were almost always brief, pointed, and momentous in a way unmatched by any other form of communication.

Some phones, like the iPhone, do a good job of splitting long messages and putting the message fragments together again, despite the fact that they might arrive out of sequence. You still get charged for multiple messages. One blogger wrote that it was a coup to charge $1310 per megabit for SMS. I think his calculation is wrong by an order of magnitude, even if you do the math with the most egregious messaging rates. (15 cents per message / 1120 bits = $133.93 per megabit) In the days of $20 per month unlimited broadband, this is robbery.

Maybe poets have known for years, but I've learned a lot of tricks and creative ways to merge sentences by compressing the predicate of one sentence into a string of adjectives in another sentence to still convey my point. I abbreviate where possible. Sometimes a more descriptive word gets sacrificed for a shorter, less colorful synonym. Any form of "be" can be replaced by "=". Another useful math operator is "+". You can change "bread and butter" to "bread & butter" and win back two characters. "Bread+butter" saves you four!

Not all Tweets are crafted to fit the length constraint, and Twitter might truncate the message at an unfortunate place. For example:

@Foodimentary Food~Fact: 350 million eat with knife and hands; 250 million eat with hands only. These sets of stats come from The Japanese Restaurant Ass 1:41 PM Jan 9th from web

I digress.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Porn "stimulus"

The porn industry is asking Congress for a bailout of $5 billion. Beautiful irony. Touche! Larry Flynt for porn czar! He's making a brilliant point here:

The comments section is priceless.

"With the housing market showing continued softness, we don't want that spreading to other parts of the economy."

"Not once have I ever heard of the porn industry being hard up (no pun intended!)"

"Well, more vital than the auto industry. I buy Japanese auto, watch American porn."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Diet Coke Booby Trap

This is a pretty good practical joke. The link is a video of someone falling for it.

And delivers again. . . this looks terrifying, but fun.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Million Dollar Challenge

Today, a 28 year old guy I was talking to bragged that he made $875,000 last year. I hadn't asked, but he was trying to sell me his marketing services. He told me I sounded like an 18 year old. I had never heard a sales guy as condescending. It was sort of the last straw for me. My whole life has led up to this point. Jupiter is lined up with Venus. Stocks and real estate are at garage sale prices. Quite possibly the most massive transfer of wealth in history is occurring. And I have an interesting goal for 2009.

I will build a portfolio of assets in excess of $1,000,000 in 2009 by the most highly ethical means possible. I will have fun doing it. 15% of annual profits go to charity.

Here's the deal. I think of million dollar ideas all the time. A few months or years later, I learn that someone implemented my idea and it took off, and I get nauseous. I mean ill in the pit of my stomach. It's my turn.

I've been reading get rich quick web site schlock for a few months now, or enough to find that people much dumber than me are making fat coin working less than I do. I have made lists of all of these sites and segmented the lists into categories and ranked them according to how big is the barrier to entry. Here is a summary:

The ones with the low (under $100) or no barrier to entry are 1) just crap, 2) have a steep learning curve, 3) they are multi-level marketing (MLM) Ponzi schemes (1-up, 2-up, up-line commission structure), or 4) some kind of ethical bribe to get you on a mailing list.

The ones with the higher barrier to entry are either too good to be true, as verified by, OR they are travel clubs, seminars about health, wealth building, entrepreneurship, internet marketing, stock trading, flash/video production, currency exchange, and other high powered training outside of a university setting. Some were MLMs with those as products.

The highest barrier to entry stuff is direct investing in gas & oil, or real estate.

Most of it is useless to me right now, because I've spent 2008 scraping by, paying off debt, and getting my rental property business on auto-pilot. The gems of knowledge I've learned in my schlock sorting is that all the knowledge on the internet is completely worthless unless you:

1) have a low-cost product or a service you're selling that has real value to repeat customers,
2) have the will power to lead a business in trying times, and
3) take action with proven marketing methods.

It's all about ACTION. Period.

I also learned that a million dollars will not come to a personal bank account. So, the first thing I've done is I've created an LLC to provide technical and marketing services.

Internet marketers seem to be making a lot of money, and they use a lot of technical services. 15 years of tech experience cannot fail me now.

By the way, I recommend the book Forming an LLC by Michael Spadaccini as well as the tax planning and entity structuring advice in Building, Leading, and Protecting Your Business by Loral Langemeir. They sum up best everything I needed to know to get the job done. The rest I learned from the Secretary of State web site and Warren Taryle of Taryle and Associates.

I'm actively seeking board members. Any friends or family or anyone who understands what I am doing is welcome to join me.

My next step? Hang out a shingle. I'm building a commercial web site. Actually, I will be building three web sites. I will create another blog that is search engine optimized to reach my target customers. I will create a set of capture pages (aka squeeze pages) to collect customer information and identify sales copy that is the most effective. I will set up an auto-responder to email to potential customers information about my brand and services. I will build a sales site that generates qualified sales leads.

I have a graphic artist working on my logo, in exchange for technical advice. He's arriving here Sunday from Chicago to meet with me. I have solicited a marketing firm to work on my positioning, but will have to wait until cash comes in before I pull the trigger. I know that market research is essential, and while I have done many hours of it til now, I am not a pro yet.

By the way, I already have one customer and $1200 in sales, which I will be able to invoice this month. I'm waiting on my SS4 filing to the IRS to yield an EIN so I can open my business bank account and get the pertinent local business licenses.

I have interviewed a few bookkeeper types. If you want an inbox full of resumes, advertise for a bookkeeper. Wow!