Monday, February 29, 2016

Jack's Famous Chili Recipe

Jack likes to cook. Enough that I have struggled with my weight over the years. I have lost quite a bit and now satisfy my food addiction by cooking for other people. My chili seems to be quite a hit, so I give you its recipe here.

If you don't like it, you did it wrong.

Jack Burton's Shake the Pillars of your Stomach Chili

2 lbs Beef Roast (Cheap - usually Chuck Roast)
1 lb of ground beef (80% lean or higher)
1 lb of ground pork
1 Large White Onion or one small and one medium White Onion
3 tbsp of Crushed Garlic or 2 tbsp of granulated garlic
1 tsp of Black Pepper
2 tsp of Salt
4 tblsp of one of either: Ancho Chili Pepper (non-spicy), mild chili pepper, regular chili pepper (medium), or hot chili pepper powder
2 tbsp of Paprika
2 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp of Italian seasoning
Optional: Cayenne Pepper to taste
1 12 oz can or 16 oz bottle of beer (more beer makes it less thick, I prefer 16 oz)
1 15 oz can of Crushed Tomatoes or Pureed Tomatoes or Tomato Sauce
1 12 oz can of Tomato Paste or two 5-6 oz cans
Optional: 1 or 2 cans of chili, white, black, or pinto beans (or whatever beans you like in your chili)

Trim roast removing as much of the fat as possible and cutting meat into different sized rectangular cubes, no bigger than a snack-sized snickers candy bar (the ones you get a halloween).

Breakup the ground meat - if the meat is put in the pot in one big chunk it will take forever to cook and you'll have chunks of ground beef. Not good.

Dice the Onion(s)

Put all in the crock pot and cook on low or high until the chili turns a dark red and the roast cubes are soft and break up easily. Stir often. Low takes about 12-14 hours, high about 7-8. It is best if you cook it, put it in the fridge, then take it out and warm it up again.

If it gets too thick add water.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Suzuki Boulevard C109RT Phone Background / Wallpaper

Out of boredom, and wanting something different for my phone background, I created these two wallpapers. They are 1440x2560 - so scale them as you see fit. Click on them for the larger versions.

Apparently Blogger still scales down the photos. You can find the first one here, and the second one here.


Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Possible Microsoft Active Directory Domain Lockout Bug?

Good day IT admins,

We at NMP Consulting have now had two three four separate clients report that Active Directory accounts are being locked out after a password change. It appears that if the user is logged in anywhere after their password has expired and the user changes it, or if it is changed manually the account is locked out within seconds. This won't happen with local accounts, unless there are Terminal Servers with local accounts that are logged in multiple times. So you may have to look for that as well.

The "old" login (where the user has not logged out) keeps attempting to re-authenticate with the old credentials and locks the user out. What is especially troubling is that the normal default level of logging in your 'Security' event logs do not show the failed attempts. You have to turn up the detail of logging by creating a group policy in order to discover which computer is still logged in with the users' account:

In your Group Policy Editor or Local Computer Policy:

Go to - Computer Configuration \ Policies \ Windows Settings \ Security Settings \ Advanced Audit Policy Configuration \ Audit Policies \ Account Management

Double click Audit User Account Management in the right pane

Check Configure the following audit events - or go to the Policy tab.

Check Success -

Click to enlarge

Reload your policies with GPUpdate.exe if using GPO, or with Local Policies it should be effective immediately (or you can reboot if needed)

Then look for event 4740 in the event logs after that. It should identify the offending computer and account.

Right now this means that people who don't logout their sessions will be punished for their lazy behavior. I myself hate leaving accounts logged in, so this won't affect me directly, but I am guessing a lot of people are getting a rude awaking starting yesterday. I am also guessing it started with a new Microsoft Update as our first reports began yesterday ("Patch Tuesday"), which is the normal day for new bugfixes and security updates being released.

Monday, November 23, 2015

'Face The Raven' Musings - Doctor Who 2005 S09E10 - SPOILERS

This is the first of a series of posts where I am inviting fellow Whovians to join in a discussion about Doctor Who episodes as they are released. If you haven't viewed the episode and don't want to be spoiled, come back later and discuss.

So we start with Rigsy calling the TARDIS about the mysterious tattoo on the back of his neck he can't remember getting. First scene takes place in his apartment.

The TARDIS lands

The next line from the Doctor reminds us how this one doesn't "get it" about humans, well, at least he plays it that way:

The Doctor gets around to his tattoo, which he considers boring, then "Oh, that's not boring", and the game is afoot!

I love how he calls Rigsy "Local Knowledge",

One of my favorite parts is where the Doctor uses the tech in the TARDIS to help figure things out. This needs to happen more often in my opinion! The TARDIS is a beautiful machine that has so much more to it than just being an interesting setting or a way to get around. This is awesome. We see lots of Gallifreyan writing and we get some "Spock" as Rose used to ask for back at the beginning of the 9th Doctor episodes. So I am going to focus on it a bit more than the rest.

Rigsy gets scanned by the Doctor.

So does his phone, and Clara's doing it!

The Doctor's Monitor Screen. "Good and Weird".

The Doctor then goes on to tell Rigsy he's had significant contact with alien life forms and he's been Retconned - a Torchwood reference!

Then the Doctor sees something else. Something bad, and the cards come out...

The Doctor then lands the TARDIS, we know they have 526 minutes, and then we go looking for an alien street somewhere, by flying the TARDIS above London and having Clara hang out, because we are looking for holes in where she sees, and we eventually end up in the Doctor Who version of Diagon alley by Rigsy accidentally defeating the misdirection circuits effects.

It was very interesting to see all the different enemies of the Doctor or other aliens in the alley.
We meet "Mayor Me" - Ashildir, who is control of the Quantum Shade, and the investigation slowly unfolds to where everyone is off doing their own thing (as usual), and Clara makes a very unfortunate choice as to how to move things along.

We find out that instead of meaning to kill Rigsy, Ashildir has made a deal with some unknown group to capture the Doctor and transport him somewhere else. They use a TARDIS key lock to assure it is the Doctor they are capturing.

Then Clara's actions are revealed, and suddenly the Doctor is (in my opinion) channeling his inner '9', and gets very angry. It is a FanTAStic scene, and Capaldi plays an angry Doctor wonderfully, and I think Clara has her best lines ever convincing the Doctor he can't be the Warrior again and must instead stay the Doctor. 

We all know what happens next, and I am not going to break everyone's hearts into a million pieces.

The Doctor returns to Ashildir and gives her quite a warning, saying he'll try not to get revenge, but then the Doctor speaks his most chilling line to Ashildir...

So, what do the rest of you think about this episode? I think it is the best of the 9th Season so far.

Anyone recognize these markings?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fixing Google Drive Sync (googledrivesync.exe) Problems.

Add another one on the WTF list. Had a client who is using Google Apps for Business and uses Drive for all their storage. One of the workstations stopped syncing, as google drive sync (googledrivesync.exe) would apparently never start.

You'd get the spinning Windows 7 circle, but then the icon would never appear in the systray.

Or so I thought....

I tried everything to get it to work again, reinstalling, running it in -vv (diagnostics) and --unsafe-network modes. No dice. It would start then exit.

Nothing at all in the Event Logs.

This was a Windows 7 Pro 64-bit install with plenty of memory and CPU power.

I created another user, logged in, and voila' - the icon in the systray appeared and asked me to login.

So this was a user profile issue.

So I went and logged back in as the trouble user, I went to the Taskbar options and hit the customize button so I could force all systray icons to appear. This is when I noticed that Google Drive Sync was in the systray icon list! The icon was invisible, but it was on the list and the text said "Shutting down..."

Only it never shut down. Couldn't find the process to get it to shut down either.

So I  deleted the registry key folder "Drive" in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\

I then ran Revo Uninstaller - a product that has cleaned up after several poorly written uninstallers. I ran it in "advanced" uninstall mode.

I then removed any trace of the googledrivesync installer on the computer. I then rebooted, logged into the users Google account in Chrome, went to Drive and downloaded and installed the Drive app for the PC.

It ran, started, and everything worked fine.

Note that all the files on the computer remained, and it re-synced with all the files on drive just fine. There were a few conflicts, but it created separate files for those.

Hope this helps!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Please, please, please turn on Two Factor Authentication for all your Cloud accounts

Jack doesn't even need to explain why I am saying this with all the news about the "Cloud" (which is really just someone else's servers, but that's another discussion) not being secure.

Why is it not secure?

1. Poor, easily guessed passwords that are used everywhere.
2. Poor, easily researched security questions.
3. Not enabling two-factor authentication.
4. See #3, #2, and #1

So....make sure none of your security questions can be answered by researching your social media posts, and then go to the places listed below (and this is not a complete list) and enable two factor authentication. Have different passwords for your social media sites and your e-mail account. Never use your e-mail password anywhere else but that one account. Don't use your social media password or e-mail password at your bank's website.

Apple ID:

How do I set up two-step verification?
  1. Go to My Apple ID.
  2. Select Manage your Apple ID and sign in.
  3. Select Password and Security.
  4. Under Two-Step Verification, select Get Started and follow the onscreen instructions.


Just click here to setup 2-factor for your Google account - this includes Gmail, Google+, Picasa, and all those Google sites that might have photos.


Instructions can be found here. Dropbox is often integrated with Android phones and auto-backs up your photos.


If you use Samsung or ASUS backup on your mobile device, do it there also, if it is not available, encrypt the files there.

Got it? Good.


Monday, September 01, 2014

"Forest of the Dead" musings.

It is Labor Day weekend 2014 in which I have decided to continue on my Doctor Who marathon to where I reach "The Stolen Earth". Right now I am on the "Forest of the Dead" two-part series with the 10th Doctor and I am enjoying meeting River Song for the "first" time.

This command line appears on the screen while the Doctor is investigating the computer:


//-rpr 0; with%20link

So, rpr is either a Cisco iOS command (not likely) or more likely a CGI "thingy":

Which makes much more sense considering Doctor Who would absolutely use some sort of CGI softare. %20 is the symbol for a 'space' - which one never uses the actual ' ' in proper programming or command so as to avoid the use of quotation marks (") improperly.

Also, the semi-colon in *nix is a way to execute multiple commands in a certain order.

"The Library" stored people on "the largest hard drive ever". So I am guessing this is the command line to store "people", with a specific link in CGI to the "nothing" (0)?

So what is "kz" and why is it redirected to be stored or send to ndataextract1.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Mind blown.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Run Windows OpenVPN as a service for Users that aren't Administrators - Untangle

I needed to run the OpenVPN-GUI for users that weren't Administrators of their local computers to connect to an Untangle 10 server. It took me forever to find the solution, which is to run the Windows OpenVPN client as a service, but I couldn't because the of the following error:

"Windows could not start the OpenVPN Service service on Local Computer. Error 2: The system cannot find the file specified."

This is how you fix it (some of this is from different OpenVPN FAQs and How-To articles that I didn't write):

Go to START > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Services
Right click on OpenVPN and select Properties
Change Start-up Type to Automatic
Click on the "Log On" tab, and select "This Account" and enter the username and password of a local account with Administrator privileges.
That account will be granted "Log On as a Service" rights.
Click OK
Close the Services window
Close the Administrative Tools window
Close Control Panel

Modify the Registry (64-bit Windows Only. This is not necessary on 32-bit Windows)

Go to Start > Run > Regedit (or Windows-R Keys)
Follow path down to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Wow6432Node\
Locate the entry for "OpenVPN-GUI"
Modify the following registry value to be 1 (instead of 0): HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Wow6432Node\OpenVPN-GUI\allow_service
Follow path down to: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Wow6432Node\
Locate the entry for "OpenVPN"
Right Click and Choose "export" and save it as openvpnold.reg
Exit RegEdit
Right Click on openvpnold.reg and choose "edit"


Save it as openvpnnew.reg
Exit the Editor.

[The above is no longer necessary, but it is included in case you are using an older version of Untangle]

Double-click on openvpnnew.reg and allow it to be imported.

When the machine restarts,the user will automatically be connected to any VPN site with an .opvn file in the /config directory of OpenVPN (C:\Program Files....). There will be no more OpenVPN icon on the system. If a user needs to reconnect, they will have to either reboot, or restart the OpenVPN service if they have that right.

The right to restart a service can be granted by downloading SubInACL.exe from and running:

"C:\Program Files\Windows Resource Kits\Tools\subinacl" /service "OpenVPN Service" /grant=<username>=TO where <username> is the non-admin account username. You may have to change C:\Program Files (x86) depending on your Operating System.

Apparently, this is fixed in the latest build ( for 10.1 - Build: 10.1.0~svn20140228r37310release10.1-1squeeze) of the OpenVPN Untangle client, but you have to uninstall and remove all registry entries by hand as the Uninstaller doesn't remove them all. Then redistribute the client and reinstall.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Musings (Spoilers)

One of my Whovian friends on Facebook posted she was "miffed" at Steven Moffat's numbering of the Doctor's regenerations, calling 10th's regeneration energy being directed to his hand and creating the Meta-crisis Doctor a " shot...".

My reply went like this:

"When Tennant was shot by the Dalek in The Stolen Earth, he should have fully regenerated, but instead they wrote in a "cheat" to allow Tennant to stay and add a great part to the story-line. (Not that I disagree with keeping Tennant around, it is just the rules - you take a fatal wound, you regenerate). So I agree that it should count as a regeneration.

Actually, if you think about it, Smith should have already regenerated into Capaldi when he died from the poison from the Joshua tree via the kiss from River. Yes, River transferred the energy to him, but again, he was dead, so he should have gone through a regeneration cycle. He started to change in the Impossible Astronaut, but later on changed that outcome.

From what I understand of the lore, Rassilon put the 12 regeneration limit to keep things in check. So is it really a hard limit?

I'm still trying to figure out if I am now Cosplaying 9 or 10 as the Eccleston Doctor? What about the numbering scheme? I say we just call the Hurt Doctor "W" instead of a number. W for Warrior."

(My last sentence had nothing to do with the rest of the conversation, but I add it for completeness)

In the 50th, we get a brief introduction to Peter Capaldi's (the 12th? Doctor's) eyes. This is during the climax of the show, after two of my favorite quotes by the Gallifreyan General: "Dear God three of them...all my worst nightmares at once." Which is soon followed by: "I didn't know when I was well off, all twelve of them." To which the 12th Doctor replies: "No Sir, all thirteen!"

So, with the regeneration of the meta-crisis Doctor, actually makes him the 13th regeneration per Moffat's counting, 14 by mine (one from River). 

So, how could this all work out?

The Parting of The Ways.

The 9th Doctor absorbs the Time Vortex from the "Bad Wolf" Rose and holds it for a few seconds before releasing it back into the TARDIS. The 10th doctor in Utopia stated: "if a Time Lord were to absorb the time vortex, he would become a 'vengeful god'."

The 10th Doctor in the same episode also stated that Captain Jack Harkness was now a fixed point in Time because Rose didn't know how to control the power inside her.

So 9 had the power of a god for a few seconds - and as a Time Lord he would know how to control it. A few seconds is an ETERNITY to an omnipotent being who knew how to control the power. The 9th Doctor could have changed anything in the entire universe and all of time while he held it inside.

What could he change in that time? Anything. It can explain anything. Including unlimited regenerations.

Just something to think about....

We also find out that the Doctor was "9" for about 100 years before he met Rose, as "W" was 800 years old according to his statement in the 50th Anniversary.

Random fun quote from the 50th Anniversary Special: " grown up." - The 10th Doctor

Inside of Capaldi's TARDIS:

Capaldi's Eyes

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Musings about Doctor Who

It's no secret that my favorite Doctor is the 9th. I cosplay as 9 at several gaming and anime conventions. I even recently GM'd a Doctor Who RPG event, "Lets Do The Time War Again" as '9'.

You often hear the question "What is Doctor Who all about?". While you will find many links as to what episodes to watch to help one "get the idea" of what is really the explanation for the show and its meanings. I think the episode "Boomtown" by Russel T. Davies really captures much of that, and even does quite a bit of foreshadowing.

The 9th Doctor almost always refers to Mickey as "Ricky", and as can be seen from later episodes, it is foreshadowing of what happens later with the 10th Doctor. (Warning. "Spoilers" in the last link).

Watch Boomtown and pay attention to all the words. I think it really captures so much about all the facets of the show. I just watched it again tonight and just had my mind blown again with the reference to "Turn Left". (Again, "Spoilers"). [Watch time index 2:13 to 2:19 in this YouTube Clip.]

It even contains one of my favorite gadgets in Doctor Who, the Tribophysical waveform macro-kinetic extrapolator of which you can see an explanation here (again, "Spoilers")

Doctor Who fan? Go watch "Boomtown" again.

Friday, September 06, 2013

OpenVPN Server Configuration on CentOS 6+

Installing OpenVPN on CentOS 6? Looking for guides? Finding that things don't quite work right? I have the following notes that I am going to aggregate into a detailed post later on, but in the meantime, this may help you quite a bit.

In client config file, you have to add:


In order for the client to prompt for username/password (using local linux users)

The root account cannot login through the client by default. I would suggest keeping it this way.

The client config exported by the current webmin OpenVPN module does NOT add the ^M characters at the end of the lines of the client config file all the time. Windows Clients NEED this.

In iptables using Webmin allow FORWARD and INPUT chains to tun0 (or tun1 or whatever) without restriction.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Best AntiVirus/AntiMalware for Windows (as of January 2013)

I often get asked as to which software package provides the best malware protection for Windows. As of right now, that would be Bitdefender in my opinion.

I never was one for the "Security Suites" as they tend to be bloated and ineffective. They do more to get in the way than actual protection. Bitdefender in "Auto Pilot" mode seems to fit the bill. It does slow your system down, but not in a way as to be too annoying. It also has an easy to switch to "Game Mode" which basically shuts itself down while you are gaming.

Just don't forget to turn it back on when you are done.

Also, none of the anti-malware programs protect you 100%. But are you smart enough to wander around without protection? It's like being in the wild-west without a gun, you might get away without one if you are lucky and/or smart, and even if you have one, it won't keep you from getting shot, but it sure can help most of the time.

Go here and buy it and I get a small cut:  Bitdefender (and other) software. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Doctor Who Windows 7 Theme

Thanks to my oldest daughter, I have re-discovered the Doctor Who Series. Call me an odd-ball, but the 9th Doctor has quickly become my favorite, and I even have a Cosplay outfit. Though I need to get the actual leather jacket, but that is for another post.

In the meantime, my obsession for Doctor Who has almost surpassed the one I have for Big Trouble In Little China.


So I found a Windows 7 theme on PC World's website and other places. The links to download it are all broken or expired. Found an error in the link on PC World's website, so I have fixed it and am posting it here for you:

PC World Doctor Who Windows 7 Theme

The original article for the theme is here:

PC World Doctor Who Windows 7 Theme Article

Note that both links take you to the PC World site, and none of the content is hosted in anyway on this blog. I am simply linking to it.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's Been A Long Time Jack

So, the Pork Chop Express has been dormant for 7 years. Only hits I get here are from search engines anymore, but I do still rank pretty high on some of the searches. I guess I can reclaim this page and start publishing a bunch of crap that no one will read. Yeah, that's the ticket.

So, for the next post, the check is in the mail.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Saving the Internet?

I was reading this article over at Ars Technica which refers to a article that speaks about the Internet being crushed under its own weight. Both articles address the problems, so I am not going to repeat the discussion. There are various really bad solutions suggested, but it is a growing problem that needs to be addressed.

In my opinion, e-mail is the crux of the problem. Spyware and viruses are installed to send mail for spammers, phishers start their con with an e-mail message. Some have suggested a pay-as-you-go solution. I think you can add a payment function and keep it free as well. We don't need a tax, or a permanent 'per-use' charge, but a pay-rebate system. E-mail is popular because perceptually it is 'free'. Yes, this sounds like having your cake and eating it too, but I think this is a viable solution.

SMTP must be changed or modified. It's just too easy to abuse. Those who want to stick with SMTP can, but will still be subject to the avalanche of spam and phishing. I'm going to call the 'new' type PMTP for Protected Mail Transport Protocol. (AMTP, QMTP, and VMTP were taken)

How it works is something like this:

Company A registers their mail-server in the similar way that one registers a Domain Name. It would be something like the way DNS is currently handled by a centralized system. You put X dollars into each of your servers' account, and you do get charged Y amount for each e-mail you send out. When you run out of money in your account, the mail is stored on YOUR server waiting for funds to be available. When someone opens and reads your mail with their client program, you are credited back the Y amount to your account. Therefore, if you send nothing but e-mail to those who want it, you get 100% of your money back, and still use e-mail for free. Individual users would buy e-mail accounts from their ISPs, and this way if a user gets infected with a remailer virus or spam, their account would soon deplete, (because they wouldn't have to keep much money in it), they would know they have a problem with their computer, and spammers might quit trying to take over as many systems. Those who break spam laws would soon find their servers de-authorized.

How would we authorize mail? After all, a spammer could simply bypass the central server and use the PMTP protocol to send you an e-mail. Well, the central servers are going to have to store some sort of identifier and delivery status for each e-mail sent (not the whole e-mail, just an identifier). When someone sends your server an e-mail, it would include the unique mail identifier for that message. Your e-mail server would then query the 'root' e-mail servers to see if that identifier was valid, and if the mail had been delivered yet or not. The mail identifiers could be quite long, so as to be almost impossible to spoof or forge.

Of course, there'd have to be modifications to current systems to allow for this. I don't think it would require entirely new e-mail client or server software. Microsoft Exchange and other e-mail systems have supported various 'connectors' that allow for support of many different types of e-mail, whether SMTP, X.400, or others. Sendmail, Postfix, and other Open Source SMTP programs could be modified and could have included in their config files lines to enable or disable SMTP and/or PMTP services. Outlook, Eudora, Thunderbird, Evolution, and other e-mail client programs could be modified to support PMTP along with SMTP. Yes, it would take time and testing - but I think it could be a paid-for enhancement. Would you pay $5 to practically eliminate spam from your mailbox by purchasing an enhancement for your software? I've seen people spend more. This approach could be taken over time, SMTP and PMTP would be run in tandem, until such a time as PMTP was prevalent enough to start allowing organizations to stop supporting SMTP.

The hardest part would be deciding who would be the 'keeper' of the authorized PMTP server lists, accounts, and data and what compensation they would receive - as well as setting up the databases. You'd want thousands of root e-mail servers to handle the massive amount of data and traffic.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Buying Iraqi Dinars

I've been keeping up on my blog reading, though not necessarily my writing. On a few of these blogs that have been talking about the Iraqi elections, I have been seeing some interesting ads.

Yes, Jack looks at the ads sometimes.

One of these services advertized is "Bet On Iraq". They say that you can help the Iraqis by purchasing Iraqi dinars, and if the price goes up, you can make a lot of money.

It sounded like a good idea the way they presented it, and being that I've seen the ads on many blogs I respect, I was thinking about buying a few for more historic purposes than an investment. However, the closer I looked, the less sense it made.

You can see from the Bet On Iraq site the number of Iraqi Dinars you can buy, and how much in US Dollars it cost to buy them and have them sent to the US. So I head over to, a currency conversion site, and plugged in some numbers to get a real conversion rate.

Now I know it costs to get the money to you through Fedex from across the world, through some bad conditions, but the numbers didn't add up to my Ferengi brain. I put it all into a table below. The first column is the number of Dinars you get, the second is how much you pay for them, the third is the actual converted value according to, the fourth is "Bet On Iraqs"' gross profit before shipping and other costs. You can see for yourself the numbers. You pay almost twice in shipping and profit for the company than what it costs to buy 25,000 dinars. OK - $32 to get a package from Iraq and keep their business running, I can understand that. what I don't get is how quickly it raises with the number of Dinars you buy. Maybe it is the 'insurance' costs from FedEx. I haven't called FedEx to get a quote for shipping stuff from Iraq, but it still seems to be too high.

I also ran into this article on that talks about the various scams.

Now, i am not claiming at all that "Bet On Iraqs"' offering is a scam, I believe that if someone offers a service at a price, it is up to the consumer to look at all the facts and make an informed decision. Impulse buying on risky investments rarely pay off. I just thought I would point this out. I wonder how many bloggers would still feel comfortable advertizing this service once they see this. What do you do if the currency is 'changed' to another type, you'd have to send it back to be exchanged for the 'newer' stuff. How would this be accomplished?

Again, I'm not saying that there should be any regulations or the business should be closed down, just pointing out the numbers involved.

Dinars	Cost ($US)	Converted ($US)	Gross Profit

25000 $50.00 $17.09 $32.91
50000 $90.00 $34.18 $55.82
100000 $175.00 $68.36 $106.64
250000 $339.00 $170.91 $168.10
500000 $639.00 $341.81 $297.19
750000 $859.00 $512.72 $346.29
1000000 $1,150.00 $683.62 $466.38
2000000 $2,300.00 $1,367.24 $932.76
3000000 $3,450.00 $2,050.86 $1,399.14
4000000 $4,600.00 $2,734.48 $1,865.52
5000000 $5,750.00 $3,418.10 $2,331.90

0.00068362 Iraqi Dinars for Each US Dollar as of 1-31-05		

Saturday, January 15, 2005

One Omitted Word

I was watching one of our local television news stations (WSYX6) last night. One of the stories was about a student who took a gun to school with him. Those links don't last very long (or don't point to the same story after a new one is posted) so I have included the text of the website article here:

Gun Found in Middle School Locker
Sheriff's deputies arrived in full force at Pleasant View Middle School in Grove City. Six cruisers lined the bus lanes Friday afternoon. A handgun was found in a locker, and one student taken into custody of the Sheriff's Office.

When the cruisers had gone - so had the 13-year-old accused of bringing a small-caliber, semiautomatic handgun. He had not been accused of anything more than that - and may or may not be formally charged. At that time there was no indication of intimidation of other students. It is still unknown as to why the gun was brought to school. That's something police are trying to find out and something the sheriff's office will investigate. A letter from the principal came out with everything they knew, prior to 3pm.

Legally, the southwest city school district cannot discuss the penalty to this student if he indeed brought the weapon on to school grounds. However - a zero-tolerance policy means the district can suspend him for ten days - with a recommendation for expulsion.

A 'standard' story sure enough. This happens from time to time at different schools. Has been happening for a very long time, even way back when Jack was in High School. However, during the story they flashed the 'letter from the principal' across the screen, and being somewhat of a speed reader - I saw the words 'unloaded gun' in the text of the body of the letter.

It immediately made me wonder why this detail was left out of the story. Surely a single polysyllabic word didn't 'lengthen' the story to make it too long to fit into the news broadcast segment. Something seemed amiss to me, that one word changes the store quite a bit, it was a fact that was left out, not an opinion. Now, don't get Jack wrong, kids shouldn't be taking guns to school, loaded or unloaded. However, leaving out the word 'unloaded' just smelled a little suspicious to me.

Back before Ohio had CCW licenses, it wasn't a felony to carry an unloaded or non-working gun. In fact, even if it were loaded, it had to be shown to be in 'working' condition before you could charge the person with a felony-level CCW charge instead of a misdemeanor (if even a charge at all). We used to send all firearms confiscated during CCW arrests to the range for testing to be sure they worked. Now, if you took out the unloaded firearm and pointed it at someone, it was a different matter, you could be charged with 'Aggravated Menacing', though it was still only a misdemeanor. When you tell a someone that a kid took a gun to school, there is an assumption that it was a loaded firearm in working condition. While again, it does not lessen the degree of concern a parent should have, it does make somewhat of a difference that the firearm wasn't loaded. I might then question the obviously poor judgment of the student, but I'd be then more likely to believe that he just might have brought it only to 'show it off' to some friends (which is probably how he was caught with it). It sure makes a difference to me, and not just a 'slight' one.

So I wrote the station an e-mail through their website feedback submission form, though I doubt I'll get an answer. I asked them if an electronic copy of the letter the principal sent to parents was available, and if not, was I correct in reading that the gun was 'unloaded'. We'll see if I get an answer and what answer I get. I might follow-up with a phone call if I don't.

I'll let you know what happens.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Take Command of Windows File Copying

Back in the DOS days, one of Jack's favorite utilities was Norton Commander. This was back in the days when Norton software was worth more than it cost. Today you wouldn't catch Jack spending a single penny for any of Symantec's crapware. (In case you didn't know, Symantec is now the company that owns and maintains all of the Norton software.) Norton Commander was the earliest file manager that has been somewhat duplicated by Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer, but the File Manager, Explorer). It had two 'panes' and using the function keys - you know those keys at the top of your keyboard you rarely use), you could do a myriad of standard file functions (View, Edit, Copy, Rename, Delete, etc.). It was also easy to start, just type 'nc' at the DOS prompt to start it.

As of Windows 95 Norton basically turned NC into another version of Windows Explorer, which means you might as well use Windows Explorer itself.

A client of Jack's had committed the coffee backflip into the keyboard of his Dell notebook computer and watched it slowly die. The screen slowly dimmed until the Dell fell into a forever electronic slumber, never to awaken. Luckily for the client, the hard drive is rarely damaged in these cases.

After procuring a new desktop for the client, Jack was for the umpteenth time copying the files from the clients old hard drive to the new one, running it through a virus scanner on the way. I was using Windows Explorer

The many problems with Windows Explorer is that it: 1. Stops on all errors, meaning you have to figure out where it left off and painstakingly go through the file list and select the remaining files to copy, or start over, which is a pain because...; 2. On the new Windows OS's, it 'scans' over the files to be copied to make a determination of several factors and settings to be used in copying, so for a large number of files, it can be minutes before the files start copying; and 3. It takes forever to do copies across the network or even from hard drive to hard drive.

On Linux, I use "Midnight Commander", which is Norton Commander for *nix. Works almost exactly like the old Norton Commander. It doesn't work well under OS X without disabling some Function keys that have useful operations on the Mac. Besides, you really don't need it on OS X. Luckily, someone ported Midnight Commander to Windows.

Midnight Commander does stop on errors, but it gives you the options to skip the error and proceed, abort the operation, or retry. The 'skip' is the most useful. Its easier to jot down a few skipped files or directories than to have to start all over again. That and it is much, much faster. It only took it 10 minutes to copy an amount of data that would have taken Windows Explorer 30 minutes.

You can find links to other 'Commander' type programs at as well as more information on this type of program.

Jack Heartily Recommends it.

UPDATE: A new "Best 46 Freeware Utilities" list is up. Check it out for other good stuff.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Diamond TV

I've always wanted to go to one of the CES shows. This years 2005 show has featured a lot of neat stuff. One thing that interests me is Carbon/Diamond Nanotube TVs. With HDTV being a requirement in the near future, I've been looking at what I wanted in a new Television. Converters aren't going to do the job if you care about the quality of TV you watch - sort of like those old 'color tv' adapters for black and white televisions. (Are you old enough to remember having B&W TVs for the most part? I remember).

This new technology looks promising. I haven't cared for the projection TVs, Plasma TVs supposedly wear out (sure it might be 12-17 years, its just the whole principle and expense), and LCDs are extremely expensive to get 'theatre sizes'.

Looks like I need to save my pennies until 2006-07.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Trouble With Chicken

Yeah that's right. Chicken. That stuff you buy in the grocery store that you bake, fry, broil, shred, or do whatever you need to for your recipes.

Jack gets many requests for his chicken wings. (even though at Jack's New Year's party, they were sub-par for my normal fare.) So I buy them in large quantities, at least once a month.

I don't buy those ones pre-cut that come in a bag all frozen. They often have an 'ice' covering, and since I deep fry my wings the water and very hot oil (350 degrees F) don't mix very well. I find that if I thaw them out, they are quite small. However, something about those frozen wings and even the fresh ones that I buy is now really bothering me.

"Up to X % of a solution added to enhance flavor"

Poppycock. You see, they 'inject' the chicken with a solution (probably Chicken Broth, or just salted water) to allegedly make it more 'moist' and 'tasty'. Blah. All it means is that you are paying so much per pound for water. If you fry or cook the chicken, it comes right out during the cooking. When I cut fresh wings that have this solution injection, it just makes a large mess of raw chicken liquid that is a pain to cleanup.

By now you're probably wondering what the big deal is. Well, its like this, that X % used to be 10% at most. OK - a 10% extra charge on what I am paying for after you get rid of the 'enhancement'. I could deal with that. Now its up to 15-20% (though I did see some that was as low as 12%, once), so I am paying for 1/6th to 1/5th of the cost per pound in water!

There could be a couple of reasons for this. One is that it leads to higher profit margins. The other is that the FDA has banned growth hormones use in many of the meat products we eat, one of these being chicken. I don't know which it is at this point, it seems that the ban went into effect in 2002, so its been around for a while, even though there is still argument about whether or not these hormones are harmful.

I just want chicken that has no 'enhancements' of water without paying an arm and a wing for 'organic' chicken. I'll take the stuff grown in cages thankyouverymuch. At least the Giant Eagle near me carries stuff that has no solution enhancement, but we'll see how long that lasts. Of course it is about 30% higher in cost.