Lost in the Desert

So, there’s a man crawling through the desert.

He’d decided to try his SUV in a little bit of cross-country travel, had great fun zooming over the badlands and through the sand, got lost, hit a big rock, and then he couldn’t get it started again. There were no cell phone towers anywhere near, so his cell phone was useless. He had no family, his parents had died a few years before in an auto accident, and his few friends had no idea he was out here.
He stayed with the car for a day or so, but his one bottle of water ran out and he was getting thirsty. He thought maybe he knew the direction back, now that he’d paid attention to the sun and thought he’d figured out which way was north, so he decided to start walking. He figured he only had to go about 30 miles or so and he’d be back to the small town he’d gotten gas in last.
Continue reading Lost in the Desert

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Snow Boots

Not sure where this originally came from but too good to not post.

Anyone who has ever dressed a child will love this one – and for anyone who hasn’t had that experience – this is what it’s like!

Did you hear about the teacher who was helping one of her kindergarten students put on his snow boots?

He asked for help and she could see why..
Even with her pulling and him pushing, the little boots still didn’t want to go on. By the time they got the second boot on, she had worked up a sweat.

She almost cried when the little boy said, ‘Teacher, they’re on the wrong feet..’ She looked, and sure enough, they were. It wasn’t any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on. She managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on, this time on the right feet.

He then announced, ‘These aren’t my boots.’

She bit her tongue rather than get right in his face and scream, ‘Why didn’t you say so?’ like she wanted to. Once again, she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off his little feet. No sooner had they gotten the boots off when he said, ‘They’re my brother’s boots. My mom made me wear ‘em.’

Now she didn’t know if she should laugh or cry. But, she mustered up what grace and courage she had left to wrestle the boots on his feet again.

Helping him into his coat, she asked, ‘Now, where are your mittens?’

He said, ‘I stuffed ‘em in the toes of my boots.’

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Windows 7 Verdict: Yeah, It’s Good

Well I’ve been running the latest release canidate for Windows 7 for most of the last two weeks and I’ve got to say, I’m impressed, it’s good, very good.

I am not one of those who suffered through Vista.  As a matter of fact, except for a few friends that I helped out installing some software or cleaning it up when it was running slow and taking forever to boot up I’ve avoided it entirely.  All the PCs in my house are pretty evenly split between XP or a Linux distribution.   It didn’t take me long after hearing about Vista and the horror stories to make me decide that I wasn’t going down that road.  It was about the same time I was starting to discover the joys of Linux and my mind was set that I would be perfectly content to just move on down that road and away from Windows entirely if Vista was the best the boys in Redmond could do.  Well Vista isn’t the best they could do and I am predicting Windows 7 will be an absolute slam dunk for Microsoft.

MAXIMUMPC has a great overview and benchmark review of Windows 7

If you haven’t tried Windows 7 yet and would like to try it,  the release candidate is still available for a free download until Aug 20 (wow, can’t believe I just provided a positive link to MS in my blog!).

A few things to keep in mind if you decide to give it a shot

Please plan ahead for the Beta and RC expiration dates. To avoid interruption, you’ll need to rebuild your test machine using a valid version of Windows before the software expires. Windows will notify you that the expiration process is beginning and two weeks later your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. The Beta expires on August 1, 2009, and bi-hourly shutdowns will begin July 1, 2009. The RC will expire June 1, 2010, and the bi-hourly shutdowns will begin on March 1, 2010. In both cases, you’ll need to rebuild your test PC to replace the OS and reinstall all your programs and data.

Pricing for the full versions is a little high (check out Amazon but basically $200-$300 for a full version, about half that for an upgrade from Vista, finally something nice to say about Vista).  This won’t matter for most people as they will buy a machine with Win 7 already on it.  If you are in the market for a new machine now, most definitely buy one that has a free upgrade to Win 7 or wait until it is widely available (Oct 22 release date).

Of course if you don’t want to spend the bucks for a Windows upgrade or to install on a newly built machine, there are lots of great Linux distros you can try.

Windows 7, it’s what Vista should have been and a worthy replacement (finally) for Windows XP.

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Are We A Christian Nation?

(Shamelessly copied from an e-mail received)

President Barack Obama said in  Turkey : “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”

Oh really?  Do you know the Preamble of your state?

Find your state below and read it for yourself.  There’s one for all 50 States.  Be sure to read the message at the bottom!  Look yours up if you think this list is wrong…


Alabama 1901, Preamble

We the people of the State of  Alabama , invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution..

Alaska 1956, Preamble
We, the people of  Alaska , grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land.
Arizona 1911, Preamble
We, the people of the State of  Arizona , grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution… Continue reading Are We A Christian Nation?

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Does Printing Work Well In Linux?

Recently I was discussing Linux operating systems with a co-worker.  The question came up on how well printers were supported in Linux.  As I have a fresh install of Ubuntu 9.04, I thought I would show exactly how well most printers work in Ubuntu.

First go to System ->Administration -> Printing

screenshot-printer-configuration-localhost

Click the new button and it searches for connected printers.

screenshot-new-printer

I have a Brother HL-2170W network laser printer connected to my network router. Ubuntu finds it easily. Click the forward button and Ubuntu searches for and finds the printer drivers already included in the default installation.

screenshot-new-printer-1

Click apply to accept the default settings or add your own. The defaults will work quite nicely.

screenshot-test-page

Next Ubuntu asks if you would like to print a test page. I click "Yes" and a perfect test page spits out of the printer.

screenshot-printer-properties-brother-hl-2170w-on-localhost

One last chance to change any settings and options. Everything looks good so I just click "OK"

screenshot-printer-configuration-final

New printer is installed and ready for use. The entire process probably took less time that what it did to review this post.

So does printing work well in Linux?  My response would be an enthusiastic “YES”.

For more information then you will probably ever want to or need to know about printing in Linux you can go to the  Linux Foundation’s OpenPrinting Database.

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Google’s Path to Success with Chrome OS

It didn’t take long for Google’s announcement of a new Chrome OS to cause a stir around the Internet.  Almost immediately news articles and blog posts came flying in from everywhere claiming to know exactly why the Chrome OS would either throw M$ Bill into bankruptcy or to the other extreme Five Reasons Google Chrome OS Will Fail or 10 Reasons Why Chrome OS is No Windows Killer.  And not surprisingly I have a totally unique opinion on this announcement and Chrome OS, just like everyone else.

Overall I think Chrome OS, based on Linux, can be a success.  I’ve never understood why Linux hasn’t had greater acceptance in the marketplace.  For the last several years, the Linux desktop (or laptop or netbook) experience has been overall very good.  Device support, including wireless, has made some amazing strides and it is seldom that I find a piece of hardware that has been on the market for several months that doesn’t work right away with most Linux distros I use.  The price is right (free), it looks good and it just works. Google’s choice of Linux as a starting point is an excellent one and I think most of the issues that people have about their data being stored on the “cloud” can be addressed.  There are just a few things that I think Google is going to have to do extra to make Chrome OS a success.

1 – Secure the Cloud, people want to know that their stored data is safe and it is essential to the success of the “cloud” idea that Google provide the proper safeguards for user data.  In addition, that data needs to be safe between the user’s machine and the cloud so Google will also need to adopt HTTPS for all data transfers for their applications.

2 – Secure Browsing Experience, in my mind this goes beyond just being able to HTTPS your Gmail and Google Docs.  If Google wants to capture the mobile market place with always connected to the internet applications then they are going to have to take steps to make the ENTIRE browsing experience secure.  To do that they should offer free VPN back to a secure Google server.  They already provide this out in Mountain View, California with their Google Wifi services through Google Secure Access; provide it to all users of Chrome OS.

If Google doesn’t mess up the current Linux experience and does just these two additional things then I think their new OS can rise to the top of the Linux distros and equal Apple’s OS X market share within 2 years of launch.  Brand name means a lot and Google has it.

But if they want more than that, if they really want to challenge the big boys in Redmond then they need to take one more big step…

3 – Partner with Adobe! People who use Adobe applications can not live without them.  Microsoft’s applications, they can take them or leave them.  Microsoft Office?  Google Docs or OpenOffice will do just as well for most people when they give them an honest shot.  Adobe’s Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Contribute, InDesign, ColdFusion; people don’t want an alternative, they want the real deal.  Honestly, Adobe could have made the same announcement Google made (an OS based on Linux), added that they were going to incorporate OpenOffice, guaranteed all their software would work in the new OS and I think it would have been over Game, Set, and Match to Adobe.  But they didn’t and the good news is there is still time for Google to partner with Adobe and bring all the Adobe applications to the new OS.

I’m excited about the new Chrome OS.  At a minimum I think it will do a great deal to introduce new users to all the current greatness of Linux so many of us already enjoy so from that perspective I think Chrome OS is already a win.  If Google plays their cards right though I can see Chrome OS growing to what most Linux users have been building toward, a serious contender to Microsoft for the OS marketplace.

Let me know what you think.

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Keeping It All Straight: Personal Finance Software

My wife does a really good job keeping track of all of our assets and liabilities on some pretty complex Excel spreadsheets but it takes a lot of time.  We track  our larger expenses but there are a lot of expenses that escape the spreadsheet and preventing us the opportunity of analyzing our spending patterns more closely.  I think there has to be software available that would pull it all together a little more efficiently.  Many years ago we tracked our expenses with Quicken and I seem to remember it worked well but that CD is long gone as is the PC it was installed on.  Over the last few days I have been reviewing the free personal finance software that is available thinking I could find something free and open source at least as good as that old Quicken use to be.  I’ve installed and done a little playing with a few but nothing yet has clicked for me as the program to use.  I thought I would post a poll here and try to get a feel for what personal finance software is the favorite of most people.  Make sure you click “Vote” after making your selection.

Please take a minute and let me know in the comments or in the forum why your choice is your favorite  and why.  I am especially interested in hearing from some of those who are using one of the online programs.

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Fantasy Football 2009 – Many questions at RB after Peterson at #1

Since I started playing Fantasy Football about 5 years ago I can not remember a pre-pre-season where I have been so disconnected to the rankings of the players in the league.  I’m not sure if I just was too busy with too many other things last season and didn’t pay as much attention as I usually do or if it is something else but I feel like I am way behind.  Walking through Krogers a couple days ago I spotted a rack full of Fantasy Football issues and decided it was time to get started.  Digging through I found the cheapest one on the rack, Beckett Fantasy Football, voted best fantasy magazine by the FSTA (whatever that is).  It looked as good as any of the others and was $1 to $3 cheaper so what’s not to like, not like it will be the last one I buy this year.

My first stop was their 12 Team Mock Draft (pg 24).  I immediately wanted to see who was ranked where in the first round.  First pick of course was Adrian Peterson, no surprises there.  I’ve always been a ‘first round = running back’ kind of guy, fantasy old school I guess you would call it.  So now I look through the rest of the first round, preparing to line up the rest of the RBs.  Call me Mr. Fantasy Pessimist but talk about dropping off a cliff.  Listed below are the top 10 running back picked after AP and why you should be apprehensive about picking each of them high in your first round.

  1. Michael Turner – I only have to turn back to page 17 for the scoop on Michael Turner and the magic number 370.  As in the curse of 370 carries.  The curse says that any back that has over 370 carries in any given season will see a significant downturn in production in the following season.  According to the article only 3 of the 21 back that have exceeded 370 carries in a season have avoided the curse; Walter Payton, LT(after 2002) and Eric Dickerson.  The most recent cursed; Larry Johnson went from RB rank #2 in 2006 to #40 in 2007, Shaun Alexander went from #1 in 2005 to #28 in 2006.  Catching only 6 passes last season he certainly doesn’t deserve this spot in PPR leagues.
  2. Matt Forte – Matt Who?  I honestly don’t think I watched him play in a game all season last year.  You can’t deny the monster numbers he put up though in his rookie season (1700+ yrds, 12TDs, 63 rec)  He’s got a QB now taking some of the pressure off but how many times have we seen a player drop off after a tremendous rookie season, this pick would make me nervous.
  3. Maurice Jones-Drew – In his 3 seasons in the league he is yet to have a 1,000 yrd rushing season.  Still he is averaging about 13 TDs, over 1250+ total yrds and 46 rec each of those years and he will no longer be sharing the backfield with Fred Taylor who looked remarkable “non-fragile” in MJDs previous 3 seasons but still in those seasons MJD has only rushed over 100 in a game 7 times.  Does he really belong this high?
  4. DeAngelo Williams – Yeah he had a monster half a season in 2008 averaging 124 yards and 15 scores over the last 8 games but can he produce at that level over an entire season.  And don’t forget Fox loves to bring in the big short yardage back on the goal line and Jonathan Stewart is custom made for that role plus a lot more of DeAngelo’s carries between the 20s.  I predict the best season of DeAngelo’s career is behind him, he won’t finish as a top 10 fantasy back this season.
  5. Steven Jackson – If the Rams addition at offensive line pan out Jackson could finish as a top 3 fantasy running back but that’s a mighty big if.  Youth is on his side though so if he stays healthy he may have a chance panning out as a first round pick.
  6. LaDanian Tomlinson – He’s 30 and he has carried a heavy workload over his entire career which showed itself as injuries last season.  He was one of the best but his time has passed him by.  Sproles got the big money contract so he should as least get an equal share of the workload.  LT might have a good season left in him but probably won’t put up the numbers to finish a top 10 fantasy back.
  7. Clinton Portis – Portis is approaching rapidly the downside of his career measured more by carries than his age.  Injuries plague him late in the season but he will still put up good numbers while he is in there.  This is probably the right place for him but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a WR or QB go off the board before him.
  8. Brian Westbrook – Westbrook turns 30 this season and few backs in the league have had more touches to this point in their career.  McNabb was resigned for one reason, the Eagles think they have one more Super Bowl run in this team.  This only happens if Westbrook is healthy in January and January stats don’t count in Fantasy.  Look for the Eagles to rest Westbrook every chance they get to try to save him for the post season.  No garbage time points for him.
  9. Brandon Jacobs – Jacobs is good for about 100 yrds a game and a score every time out.  No more and seldom any less, the new Rudi Johnson  He won’t have to share touches with Ward this year but the passing game won’t take pressure off of him either, he’s probably in about the right spot here, maybe lower in PPR leagues.
  10. Marion Barber – He lost over a yard per carry and a handful of TDs compared to the previous two seasons and the backfield in Dallas is crowded.  He’ll have a good season but I doubt a top 10 fantasy back season.

Who they overlooked:  Chris Johnson (he can run, wow can he ever run, he can catch, he just can’t score TDs when LeDale is getting all the short yardage work), Steve Slaton (he is still the man in Houston, someone will get a very nice RB in the 2nd round in Slaton, almost 60 rec), Frank Gore (can Mike get big numbers out of Gore running behind a lousy offensive line, I won’t bet against it).

My draft is scheduled in 71 days and it is very clear I have a lot of work to do to get ready for it.

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kaChing

I’ve started a kaChing community on the kaChing application. What is kaChing? According to the Yahoo application site kaChing is

“The web’s most realistic trading environment—and biggest investing community. Manage a virtual portfolio. Compete with friends. Follow some of the world’s smartest investors, their trades and their ideas—or prove you’re one of them to earn real fees.”

Basically you start an account with $10,000,000 and try to out invest everyone else. It is very realistic and you can choose to follow other successful investors. On it’s main web page it is listed as an “investment advisor”.

I’ve already started (2 days). Lost about 4% the first day, gained most of it back the second. Wonder what is in story for the 3rd day?

Three ways I have found to become a part of kaChing
Facebook
http://apps.facebook.com/kaching/

MyYahoo
http://apps.yahoo.com/-DnFMcF76

Or if you aren’t a member of Facebook or Yahoo, sign up directly at kaChing
http://www.kaching.com

However you get there, come by and join the “Monty’s Muse Investors” community.

See you there!

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Bogle on Buy and Hold and the “Long” of Long-Term Investing

Excellent and very timely article over on Motley Fool

John Bogle, founder of The Vanguard Group, was named one of Fortune magazine’s four “investing giants” of the 20th century. Bogle launched the first low-cost index mutual fund in 1975 and has long advocated indexing for everyday investors. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Bogle to get his thoughts on whether buy-and-hold investing is dead.

Would be very interested in hearing what parts readers agree or disagree with Mr. Bogle.

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2009/06/16/bogle-on-buy-and-hold-and-the-long-of-long-term-in.aspx?source=iedsitmrc0000001

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