The Ramblings of the Semi-Sane

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This and That

More socially retarded by the day…

With each passing day it seems our world grows smaller, yet more socially retarded.

This past week I was witness to a repeat of something that had happened to me personally a couple of years ago.

My youngest daughter, Grace, standing in the dining room with a shocked look on her face.. (I should mention, for sake of clarity as I tell the story, she is not my bio-daughter) as she reads, on Facebook, that her grandmother, her biological sperm-donor’s mother, is in the hospital.
No one called her to tell her, she only found out hours later when she happened to check Facebook on her phone. Her aunt had posted it. 
Grace was upset, immediately worried about her grandmother. I, on the other hand, was pissed. When did it become acceptable to blurt something like that out on social media without at least telling the family first? If the grandmother had died in the fall that sent her to the hospital would it still have hit Facebook that way rather than a phone call? I somehow get the feeling that the answer to that question is yes.

Some people crave attention above all else. They must immediately, when opportunity presents itself, scream “Look at me! Look at me!”. Anything that will draw that attention is fair game, good, bad, indifferent. They must announce it to the world and smile profusely as the number of ‘Likes’ and comments roll in… The more the better. 

A couple of years ago my own grandmother was rushed to the hospital, and my own aunt had it out on Facebook before word got around to the rest of us.. the only time I have spoken to her since then was at my grandmother’s funeral. I have little use for shit like that.

No consideration of the feelings of others. No thought to how they might feel reading such personal news on such a public platform, while strangers, ‘friends’ of the person making the post, comment on it. How many of those ‘friends’ are even friends? Look at your friends list on Facebook. How many of those people do you honestly know? I see people with hundreds and thousands of Facebook friends, yet outside of Facebook they barely interact with anyone., barely know anyone. They barely interact with their own families, yet spill their most personal things out for attention from these cyber-friends to comment on.

I am so frustrated by this that I totally lost the train of thought I was working on and seem to have resorted to rambling and babbling…

I guess, what I want to say is, Think Before You Post. 
Is what you are about to spill publically something others might need to know in private first?
Do you really need the attention? 
Is your life that shallow that you require the commiseration, or approval, of people you only know as an icon next to a name at the expense of the feelings of your Family, and Real Friends?

If you answered yes to that last question, and I’m on your friends list, expect I won’t be for long. Expect also that your own family probably has little use for it as well.

Reading is Fundamental

Some of my earliest memories involve learning to read. Cuddled on the couch next to my mother, she reading Dr. Seuss, me following along, my fingers under the words on the page repeating each word and memorizing the patterns of the letters that made up those words, with a bowl of Jiffy Pop next to us to snack on as I learned. There are other memories of times snuggled in my grandfather’s lap as we sat in his old black recliner, more Dr Seuss, “Inside, Outside, Upside Down” the rumbly baritone of his voice, the smell of the peppermints he always kept in his pocket for 3 year old me, the low drone of the television in the background… a hockey game, or wrestling match. I still associate those smells and sounds, with reading and learning. Throughout the years, between then and now, I have always been an avid reader, but those memories are the key. By the age of 4, I was the one reading to them and by the time I started kindergarten I had stacks and piles of books in my room, and read everything I could set my eyes on. Reading seemed so important, though I still didn’t know why. The more I read, the more I learned, the easier learning became. The reading experiences of my childhood were significant because they taught me to think things through, helped me learn to look at problems from many angles when seeking a solution and helped me to achieve a position in the world of IT management.

In my adult years, this love of learning, brought on by reading, helped me to establish myself firmly into the world of management. I attribute my rise through the ranks to my ability to think things through, clearly and effectively choosing the right path to reach the desired end, and solve problems as they arise along the way, skills I learned as I learned to read and write all those years ago.

I learned critical thinking skills, as I sought ways to help my favorite characters out of one difficult situation after another. I learned to expand my imagination, to ask “What if..?”, and to follow through on those questions to determine likely outcomes.

I learned to assess the needs of others, to ask the right questions, and turn the answers into actionable decisions as I pondered the lives of Tarzan, John Carter, and Carson Napier as I wandered the worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I’m a Support Center Manager, one of the areas I am responsible for is the Helpdesk. People frequently call for assistance, and while they think they know what they need, they really only know what end result they want. For instance, I recently was approached by a senior partner who insisted he needed a laptop for travel that was equipped with certain software, and entire databases of data he would need for a trial. By asking the right questions, determining what he was attempting to do, and showing him how to use a web-based interface to access our network I was able to convince him that while he needed the laptop, he did not need all of the extra programs and data installed, making the laptop more efficient, and preventing loss of data if it were stolen.

I learned to look for clues, and pay attention to details as I followed the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators. Just last week I was, by pure chance, included in a conversation concerning a problem with our wireless network in the St Louis office. While not normally something I would be involved with, the topic came up while in a meeting with several other managers. I asked how long this had been going on. “About 2 weeks or so.” was the answer. I thought back, wondering what had changed two weeks prior. Attention to detail saved me, and I pointed out that the new clinic on our floor had opened at that time. Something that should have made no difference, yet it was the only change, the only new detail in our environment. Two hours later I received an email saying that the clinic had been tied into the wrong network, and was using the lion’s share of the bandwidth that was meant for our wireless system. Thank you, Sir Doyle and Mr. Hitchcock, for teaching me to pay attention to the small things.

I learned to never give up, to follow through and achieve my goals following Melville’s characters in Moby Dick. This dogged insistence that there must be a way to achieve my goals has led me to the path I am on now. Learning for the sake of learning, learning, to be able to move forward, to have more answers at my fingertips when presented with new problems to solve. Higher Education is now my White Whale.

As I said previously, the reading experiences of my childhood were significant because they taught me to think things through, helped me learn to look at problems from many angles when seeking a solution and helped me to achieve a position in the world of IT management. In the end, it was reading that taught me the skills I needed to succeed in my chosen career. By following the lives of the characters in my books I learned to think, to assess the situation and look for critical clues. I learned to ask the questions that would lead to the answers I needed and to never give up, because there must always be a solution to the problem if you just look hard enough.


Back to the World

It’s been a crazy few months, and most things written here are locked away, they’re for me, more of a personal journal, not for public consumption.

Chad Grimm, the Libertarian candidate for Governor of Illinois, lost of course. I didn’t expect he’d win, but a stronger showing would have been nice. Too many people still buying into the same old crap. They ‘have to vote Republican or Democrat’ the ‘Lesser of the Two Evils’ even when they self identify as Libertarians, or confess that they want what the party stands for. Still, they buy the bullshit, and vote for Evil, in one form or another. They don’t get it, and this time next year, those that voted for Rauner will be bitching about it, but it will be too late. The lesser of two evils is still evil, yea? So you get what you voted for.

On another front, I’m well into my first term working on this BS degree, emphasis on IT Security. 2 classes finished, 2 exams coming up, and hoping to squeeze 2, maybe 3 more courses in this term. Western Governors University is perfect for me. I work at my own pace, when and where I have time. Schedule my exams, and off I go. They’re all proctored of course, but all good so far. One new IT certificate for the wall already, and a dozen more on the way.

Last April saw me in the hospital, 321 pounds, and having heart issues.. go figure.. what the F* happened? how did I get there? It just crept right on, but now it’s December, and most of it’s gone, back down in the 240’s, and aiming for 220 by April, I figure 100 pounds in a year is enough, and it’ll have the Doc off my ass. At 6’3”, 220 is just fine, I don’t care what the charts say.

I just spent a week at the Occidental Grand Xcaret Resort with my amazing wife, and one of my sisters and her husband. All I can sat is, it was AWESOME, and we’re already planning next years trip. Maybe the same place, but I think a lot of it had to do with the company. I don’t think it matters where the 4 of us go, we’re going to have a good time together. We all just click well.

All of the above are fodder for longer posts, but I just felt like spilling something out this evening, taking a break from the studies, and needed something to ‘dump the brain’, so this was it.



Disable that GeoTagging!

That’s easy. Metadata


In short, metadata is more data about data. In most common document types, embedded within a file is more information, typically hidden from casual viewing. This hidden data is used by the computer programs to provide accurate processing information, i.e. what version of software was used to create the document, how the file is encoded, and often who created it.

In the case with many popular image/picture formats, the list of possible metadata is quite extensive. With the expanded options for metadata in JPEG images, we have the ability to record the photographer, camera settings (ISO, Aperture, Flash, lens type), processing software and location.

The metadata in images is often retained by default by desktop image processing software and many online photo storage websites. This information is often valuable to the photographer, as well as the website provider for demographic information. Of course, location is also one of the options available for storage in a JPEG image.

About Geotagging

The storage of location based data, in the form of Latitude and Longitude inside of images is called Geotagging; essentially tagging your photograph with the geographic location. This data is stored inside if the metadata if JPEG images and is useful for tying the photograph to a location. Want to remember exactly where you took those photographs while on vacation? This information is for you.

However, most modern digital cameras do not automatically add geolocation (Latitude and Longitude) metadata to pictures. The process for adding the geolocation data either requires specialized add on hardware, or post processing with software on the desktop after the pictures are taken.

There is a large exception to this rule: Smartphones. With the proliferation of smart phones that contain GPS locator technology inside, the cameras in these devices are already equipped with the specialized hardware to automatically add geolocation information to the pictures at the time they are taken.

Most people don’t realize that the action of automatic geotagging takes place on their smart phones, either because it is enabled by default, not exposed the user as an option, or was asked and then forgotten. As a result, individuals often share too much information about their location, right down to the exact Latitude and Longitude when snapping photos with their smartpphone and posting them online.

How do I disable this?

The easiest way to stop posting this information for all to see it to disable geotagging on your smartphone.

Disabling on your phone

There are many phones out there on the market that geo tag their pictures and as we get more information, we will update the instructions to list more models, however, lets start with two phones: the Apple iPhone and the Palm Pre

iPhone (iOS 4.x)

(Via Charles)

Apple greatly simplified the way to turn off location services on a per-application basis. To see your settings, go to Settings, General, then Location Services. From there you can set which applications can access your GPS coordinates or disable it entirely.

iPhone4 Screenshot 1

iPhone (iOS 3.x)

With the iOS 3.x there are two ways to disable Geotagging of photos. The first involves disabling of all location based services. To disable this feature, Go to Settings, General then set Location Services to off.

iPhone 3 Screenshot 1iPhone 3 Screenshot 2

Be warned: This will turn off ALL location based services for ALLapplications. Of course we may actually have need to use location based services for other applications (such as maps and driving directions, or getting robbed via Foursquare), but just not for our pictures.

There is no easy way to disable location based servces for just one application. However, we can make the iPhone prompt us at first use for each application. Once reset, the first time we enter the application we can enable or disable location based services for the application. To do so we need to go to Settings, General, Reset.

iPhone 3 Screenshot 1iPhone 3 Screenshot 3

Be careful here! We want to select Reset Location Warnings, and then Reset Warnings. This restores all of our Location based warnings for each application to the default, which in most cases is “Ask on first use”.

iPhone 3 Screenshot 4iPhone 3 Screenshot 5

From here, once we enter into the default Camera app on the iPhone, we can select Don’t Allow. This will prevent the Camera app from geotagging our photos.

iPhone 3 Screenshot 1

Palm WebOS

Palm has made it fairly easy to disable applications from accessing the GPS without your explicit permission. If you bring up the “Location Services” configuration screen, there should be three options: Auto Locate, Geotag Photos, and Background Data Collection. Ideally, all three should be turned off.

To disable geotagging photos, simply turn the “Geotag Photos” option off. If “Auto Locate” is off, the “Geotag Photos” option will not be displayed as the Pre will not geotag photos with “Auto Locate” off. Once the “Geotag Photos” is turned off, the camera appplication will no longer geo tag photos. As a side note, if “Auto Locate” is off, the Pre will prompt you anytime an application requests your location from the GPS. This allows you to know who’s asking to find out where you are.

Google Android (Verizon Droid Phones, this is you! :))

Like the iPhone, there are two ways to turn off geotagging. To completely disable GPS location finding for all applications, we will need to do the following:

Press the Menu Key and then Settings

Android Settings

Then press Location and security

Android Location Security

By default, GPS is on. Uncheck it to turn it off

Android GPS ON Andorid GPS OFF

Like disabling the GPS in the iPhone, this will break location based information for all applications, including legitimate uses.

In order to disable for just the camera application, start the Camera app to make sure that you are not saving your location. This is the menu on the left side of the camera application; it slides out from left to right.

Android GPS Camera Location

Select “Store Location” and make sure it is set to off.

Android GPS Camera Location Off

Once this is disabled, the camera app will no longer add geotags to your images.

BlackBerry Devices

There are multiple ways to disable the geo-tags on Blackberry. We details three ways here:

(Via Bug_Bear)

Select Options, Advanced Options, GPS, press Menu key, Select Disable GPS and select Yes to confirm. This will disable all GPS capabilities on the phone.

(Via Bug_Bear)

Select Options, Security, Applications Permissions, menu select Edit on the application (default is Prompt for BB Core), Expand Connections, Change Location (GPS) to “Deny”, or you can disable within the application. Most apps i.e. Google Maps, Ubertwitter, etc… will just default everything to “allow” for app perms regardless of app settings chosen during setup.

(Via an anonymous contributor… Thanks!)

Go into picture-taking mode (via HomeScreen, click icon “Camera”), press the Menu button and choose “Options”. Set the “Geotagging” setting to be “Disabled”. Finally, save the updated settings.

Other Phones

Sadly, there are numerous phones that we are unable to test. The exact directions on how to disable may vary by phone but we suggest checking under the Options menu of the Camera application and also any kind of “Location” or “GPS” menu under your phone’s control panel. If you are successful in disabling it, please let us know how you did it so we can share!

Raise the minimum wage in Illinois?

Illinois must not impose any minimum wage increase. Businesses in Illinois are still struggling to recover from the deepest recession since the great depression. Illinois’ unemployment rate is stubbornly high at 9.2%, nearly 2 points higher than the U.S. average. Since 1.4% of Illinois workers earn minimum wage, increasing the mandatory minimum would have an adverse effect on the unemployment rate. I am opposed any measure that will increase unemployment or harm our businesses.

The economics of increasing in the minimum wage during a down economy are simple: when something costs more, people purchase less of it – including low-skilled labor. I believe the current minimum wage benefits those that it is intended to benefit and increasing it may be detrimental to their continued employment.

Our elected officials continually see legislation to increase the minimum wage. They must remain vigilant in their efforts to oppose those bills – and make it clear that such increases will drive more jobs out of Illinois and threaten our small businesses.

One of my own daughters is one of those minimum wage employees. This is not some arbitrary decision on my part, it is well thought out. It would be nice if she made more money, and she will, eventually, but not at the risk of further damaging our economy for the sake of garnering a few votes. Shame on Quinn, because that’s all this is, a tactic to scrounge up votes.

Half of Illinoisians are ready to move out of state

According to a recent Gallup Poll, HERE fully half of the people living in Illinois would rather live someplace else.

Why is that you ask? I’m sure one of the reasons is that the state is so poorly managed, and is currently 6.7 Billion dollars in debt.

How did we get that for in the hole? I’d suggest asking our current Governor, but he obviously has no clue, see my post from early this week… we’re so far behind he seems to think we’re ahead.

I’d say ask our previous governors, but you’ll need a pass to visit half of them in prison… that’s right, they were so corrupt that 4 of them are, or have been, serving prison sentences.

Now, look forward to this fall… we have a choice, the apparent imbecile we know, Governor Quinn who thinks he’s doing a good job (or is an incredible liar) or his Republican opponent, Mr. Bruce Rauner, a man who won’t answer a lot of direct questions, in true politician style, or who has already flip-flopped on more than one subject, telling everyone what they want to hear, even if it contradicts something he already said.

Rauner appears to have plenty of skeletons in the closet, Quinn can’t seem to tell a loss from a profit, and wants to raise our taxes permanently.

That, for me, leaves two options. One? Flee the state, move to Missouri or Texas. Two? Support and vote for Chad Grimm, and watch him do for Illinois what Gary Johnson did for New Mexico as a Libertarian Governor.

I love my little home here, my family is mostly here, I’d rather stay than go, so Grimm is my last hope. If he doesn’t win, I’m packing up the house, hanging a for sale sign and headed across the river.

It’s an election year, and the robo-calls are starting

Even if you are on the National Do Not Call List, run by the US Government’s FTC, charities and political organizations are still allowed to call you on your landline (house phone)

I think that’s wrong. You should be able to opt-out of being bothered by those folks too. In fact, it should be Opt-In only. If you do not specifically give them permission, they should not be bothering you.

Before the Illinois Primaries this year I was constantly bombarded by Bruce Rauner’s organization. The thing was, they were calling my cell phone, since we do not have a landline. That was the catch, because apparently it’s illegal to place robocalls to cellphones except in limited circumstances: when the calls are made for emergency purposes, or when they’re made with the prior consent of the recipient.

FCC enforcement chief Travis LeBlanc said the commission is "committed to protecting consumers from harassing, intrusive, and unwanted robocalls to cellphones, smart phones, and other mobile devices."

So, if you start receiving those unwanted calls, or text messages, on your cell phone, please do not hesitate to file a complaint by Clicking HERE

Be sure to note in the comments that it’s a cell phone that is being called.

Contact the party responsible, if possible, and demand that they stop calling you. I had to contact Rauner’s group more than once, and eventually send them a Facebook message threatening action if they did not stop harassing me with their unwanted calls.

With what may be a tight gubernatorial race in Illinois this year, he (Rauner) will be using that tactic again, you can count on it.

Illinois’ Governor doesn’t seem to get how math works

Governor Pat Quinn recently stated that we need to keep this ‘temporary’ income tax increase, and make it permanent. While making that statement he also said that Illinois had PAID DOWN it’s debt by 5 Billion dollars over the past few years.

“This is a turning point in Illinois fiscal history. We’ve been able to pay down our bills by $5 billion in the last few years. Our economy is doing better. It’s so important that we have a budget that moves our state forward,” he said.”

That little tidbit of information might be nice to hear, except that in June of 2012 the Illinois Auditor, Gerald Holland, released a report saying that Illinois’ budget deficit had reached 43.8 billion dollars, double what it had been 5 years previous.

In March of this year (2014) Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka released a report that put the Illinois deficit at 45 Billion An increase of 1.2  billion over the past 2 years.

Governor Quinn may be technically correct, we may have paid 5 billon worth of debt off in the past few years, but it appears we have still managed to dig ourselves deeper in the red despite that fact.

I’m giving the man a D for math, and a B+ for political spin.

Obviously his tactics are not working, and it’s time to replace him with someone with new ideas. Ideas that will work.

Illinoisans, you have a choice, and the right to choose. Take a look this year at Chad Grimm, you can find his Facebook page HERE

While you’re at it, take a look at the rest of the Libertarian Candidates for Illinois in 2014 HERE

People go over the top sometimes when it comes to politics

I just accidently engaged in idiocy. I mistakenly argued, pointlessly, with a Republican fanboi. I understand supporters, yea, but people who just blindly leap in and defend their political idols without paying attention scare me.

I complain about multiple robo calls, which I had requested be stopped. My requests were ignored, so I went to the candidates Facebook page and complained, vehemently. The response from the fanboi? ‘Everyone else does it’.  That is not an acceptable excuse. We’re talking about a guy wanting t run for Governor of Illinois. If he does what ‘everyone else does’ in that regard, then we can expect him to run the state further into the ground, and end up in prison. That seems to be what most of our recent previous governors have done.

I suppose though, that since ‘everyone else does it’ that the fanboi will consider that to be okay.

I wouldn’t have paid much attention to him if he hadn’t claimed he could ‘see right through me’ and implied I was some sort of liberal democrat… at that point I realized I was dealing with some sort of mentally unbalanced individual. He did indicate he was from Chicago though, and any Republican living in Chicago and having to deal with the crazy bullshit that is the Democrats up there is entitled to being a little unhinged.

Minimum Wage increase?

There is an article (click here) that you should read, that covers quite a bit of reality about the minimum wage. The article contains facts you should know.

So I make well above the minimum wage, and the whole thing shouldn’t affect me. Or should it?

I keep reading posts, and articles from people pushing for this increase. I don’t get it. I just don’t.

Do these people not understand the impact of what they are suggesting? Suppose a small business that currently employees 7 people at the $7.25 minimum has a budget for payroll of $100,000. Those 7 people at minimum wage, if they work full time, with no benefits, just their hourly wage, cost the employer $105,560. They are already over budget.

Now, raise the minimum wage to the demanded $15 an hour. That same scenario would cost $218,400. However, without raising the price of their product, the company still ahs the same $100,000 budget. So, what do they do? They keep the 3 best workers, at a cost of $93,600 and hope they can still keep things running. The other 4? They end up in the unemployment line, until unemployment runs out, then they go on welfare.

Why do they go on welfare instead of finding another job? Not because they are lazy, or untrained, but because they are not the only 4 people looking for work, the unemployment rate is going to sky-rocket because this same scenario is playing out all over the country.

The other option for employers is to raise the cost of goods and services to cover the new required wages. Payroll has more than doubled, so the cost of these goods or services is going to increase by a dramatic margin, maybe as much as 75 to 100%.

Now that $10 item you wanted? It costs $17 to $20. Your minimum wage check is not going any farther than it did before because even though you’re making twice as much, you’re now spending twice as much. Oh, but wait, all those folks on welfare? Guess what? The Feds need to raise your taxes to come up with the money to provide that welfare, so now, you’re tax rate just went from 10% to 15% (or more) meaning you have even less left over.

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