A Good Idea for a New Book

The plot would be simple. A dozen misfits would be selected and taken from prison. A leader would be put in charge and they would undergo a bunch of special training. Then, they would be transported to Russia, close to that outfit that keeps hacking into our systems. Then, very systematically, they would kill each and every one of them.

Then, there would be two results. They would no longer hack into our systems and all others would be afraid to do anything like it.

I would write the book, myself but I am afraid it is beyond my abilities. Oh, and by the way, if you do it, you might run into copyright infringements. It has sort of been done before, different time, different circumstances. As for movie rights, forget it. The Russians would never allow such a movie production. If someone tries it, they might get dead. Still, it sounds like a really good idea for someone willing to chance it.

Problems with Cyber Attacks

I do not understand how after all these years, we still have to put up with cyber attacks. Okay. My home computer has been hit a few times, but it’s no big thing. I reload my operating system and off I go. There is no major suffering, all though, with the size of the latest version of Windows, it can take a while to restore a system. (In the old days, it was about 10 minutes. I used to do it once a month just to insure the system integrity. To be sure, the hackers do benefit from large operating systems.)

As I see it, the blame lies in three places. First Microsoft makes it entirely too susceptible. Perhaps a high security version should be available for critical industries and military. No communication would be permitted to or from these systems unless they have the higher security.

Secondly, individuals expose things to the net that simply don’t need to be there. I am still wondering how it is that the pipeline was remotely shut down. Really, do we have to put such control out there so that anyone who can figure out how just shuts it all down.

There is for sure, no hard fast rule that everything needs to be put out there where anyone can get to it. Believe it or not, there are still computers that are not connected to the internet at all. We don’t have to put it all out there where we are completely exposed.

Third, establish secure paths. Before anything comes into a computer, verify that it is coming from a recognized source. I’m not totally sure how this can be done but I am sure it can be. Any computer trying to get into my computer that is not authorized should be suspect and if it continues, the computer should be investigated, shut down or both.

Regardless, in the current conditions or as above, I would always have a pseudo system, a fake system for people to hack. I would let them think they broke into my system and let them do whatever they want. After they wasted a few hours, maybe days looking around, they would likely decide to go somewhere else.

To extend such an idea, maybe we should set out mouse traps. The mouse traps would be computers that would be varying degrees of ease of hacking. The instant someone tries to break in, the source would be flagged and someone could be dispatched to deal with the culprits.

Better yet, maybe a virus could be loaded into the culprit’s computer and cause it to shut down. Let the hackers feel what it is like to be hacked.

Keep it Simple!

In the late 1980s, I bought my first PC, an 80286 that ran at 12 MHz and it had 1 MB of Ram.  Because it was running on DOS 3.2, I had to partition my 40 MB disk into to logical disk or I would not be able to access 8 MB. I had Windows 3.1.

To some, this may seem inadequate, but it worked well.  Indeed, the only two reasons I upgraded were:

  1. To access the greater hardware, especially hard drives and memory.
  2. To access USB devices.  Windows 5.1 theoretically allowed USB, but not in reality.  I tried it.

I consider windows 5 the best of all the systems, though I did have some gripes with the way Microsoft was already trying to take control of my system.  They came up with these really neat things called registries, which hardly anyone outside Microsoft can understand.  I’m not sure that there is any documentation on the things.

My personal opinion is that Microsoft is using them to keep people from pirating their software.  I have news for them.  It doesn’t stop the pirating but it does really mess things up for us honest folks.  Worse yet, it has made it difficult to install and backup system disks.  Until I had Windows 5, I backed up and restored my system once a month.  It was a good way to build confidence for the day that something bad happened.

Since then, Microsoft has come out with another operating system every time I turned around.  Some were better, some worse.  Windows ME should have never left the barn.  The new IBM PC bought came with it installed and it froze at least once a day, many times more.  (It taught me to make sure I backed up my work every 15 minutes.)

The real problem is that each newer system is more complex than the last.  It really makes me long for Windows 3.1, even if I have to give up USB and huge storage devices.  The fact is, a 1 or 2-hundred MB disk would be plenty if I don’t need a couple of GB just for the operating system.

Moreover, much slower systems would be far more productive if Windows 10 weren’t so much large and clumsy.

The worst part of it is that it seems every time I turn on my laptop, it is time for an update.  Some of the updates take a long time.  Essentially, I can’t do anything until it’s done.

I get it.  Mostly it is for security.  The thing is, the reason for the need for the security is because there are so many holes in Windows.  Sorry, Microsoft.  Sometimes the truth hurts.

As if that isn’t enough, Microsoft has decided I need the cloud.  Whenever I finish an update, their cloud program starts whenever I start the system.  It takes me a few minutes to take it back off.  They might like the cloud but I don’t.  It greatly slows my system.

Moreover, as I said, the system is full of holes.  It seems as if every month I hear of someone else who has had their system hacked.  That’s dumb.  I know enough about computers that I know computers operating systems can be built without holes.  It’s simple.  Build three operating systems.  You can keep one with all the bells and whistles… and the holes.  One system would be very simple, for folks like me.  All I need is the basic three: word processor, spread sheet and basic web interface, which would include a very basic E-mail.  Perhaps, the email could be integrated into the word processor.  The E-mail would be limited to text and photos.  It’s pretty hard to download a worm with an interface like that.  Upgrades would be less frequent and should be through stores, not the internet.  Finally, hopefully, backups should be quick and simple.  That way, when things don’t go right, it wouldn’t be a disaster.

The third operating system would be the same as the second, but it might have a few more bells and whistles.  It would have the big advantage of security.  Certainly, this would be used for any system that stores sensitive information: Names, SSNs, account numbers and such.  Governments at all levels should use this type of system even if Microsoft refuses to build it.  Mostly, should such a system have problems, the OS and programs should be restorable in minutes, not hours.  Also, restores should be practiced regularly.  Bottom line, there should be no way to cause any program to be downloaded and run remotely.

If all three systems were available, I wonder just which would sell the most.  I know which one I would want, not the one with the bells and whistles.  Those that select the system with all the bells and whistles just might want the simple system too, after they were bit by security problems a few times.  They might want to change the first time someone gets access to their bank account, or worse, their 401(k).

…and by the way, the simpler system would run much faster and would require less disk and memory.  The old saying is true, “Keep it simple stupid.”

Large Metal Boxes

About six months ago, I started searching for large metal boxes, steel or aluminum was fine, either would do.  I wanted something about a foot high and two feet long.  I Googled large metal boxes.  I looked on Amazon.com for large metal boxes.  I found nothing larger than two or three inches at the most.

It kind of surprised me.  Metal boxes used to be quite common.  Nowadays, I guess not so much.  Everything is plastic.

Now we get to the main reason I write this.  Ever since I started the search, I have been deluged with advertisements for metal boxes.  I wouldn’t mind.  Actually, I might even appreciate it.  But, as you can imagine, none of them was large, or even big.  That software that generates those advertisements don’t seem to be so perfect.  Moreover, all they have succeeded in doing is to just add to my frustration.

As a side note, I did find a solution, so all you advertisers need not bother me any more.  I was walking through Home Depot the other day and noticed that they sold one foot squares of metal, both steel and aluminum.  I bought six of them, some glue and got busy.  In just a little while, I had a 12 inch cube and it works great.  In fact it worked so good, I just might build a few more of them.

Isn’t it wonderful when difficult problems have simple solutions?

(This part has been added on.)

The thought just occurred to me.  It is a shame I know nothing about welding, other than a little about the theory.  If I knew how to weld, I just might be able to make the metal boxes and sell them to augment my retirement.  One thing is for sure.  I’d not have much competition.  Clearly, no one else wants to make the things.

Kiosks and McDonald’s

Eons ago, I am sure that a man used a rock to pound on something. Maybe he was building an arrowhead or he might have been using it to build himself some kind of house. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Then, one day, someone came on the brilliant idea to affix a rock on some kind of handle. Hence, the hammer was invented. Over the years, the hammer has gone through countless improvements. Moreover, there are at least a dozen variations to the modern hammer.

As with most inventions, it can be used for good or it can be used for damage or harm. Indeed, some hammers were actually designed as weapons, though today, most of them are found in museums. Still, a little two-pound sledgehammer can be quite lethal, though it is not designed as one. Please stay with me as I spring forward to a more modern invention, the computer.

By itself, it is neither good or bad. However, it can be used for either one. Being as I was born well before the modern electronic digital computer, being as I have been around them most of my life in one way or the other, I have seen plenty of both. Ideally, when the computer first came onto the scene, their primary is to save time. They save time because they can perform repetitive tasks very fast.

They save time because they perform complex calculations in a timely manner. (for instance space travel) Now that financial institutions use them, errors are as rare as hen’s teeth, which saves time and frustration. Since they first arrived on the scene, they have one more real advantage. (that is, besides games) They provide enormous amounts of storage. In the time before computers, papers had to be saved for years, taking up rooms of storage.

Now, years of data can be stored on something not much larger than a stamp. It even makes Microfiche old-fashioned. Along the way, the computer has changed the worlds of photography, music, teaching and, of course, literature. My wife hardly goes anywhere without her Kindle. The books she has on the little electronic tablet would fill a couple of good sized chests. About all of us carry phones around, which are full of music and photos. I listen to mine wile walking.

One can hardly imagine such a wonder being used for bad, but it started almost from the start. The first place I noticed it was when they were used for tracking employees. Some employers used computers to track the number of keystrokes by the employee as well as how many errors they made. It is a way to keep an employee under thumb. I actually worked under those conditions for a while. Worse, if I did one thing, I was wrong. If I did the other, I got scolded. Instead of using the computer to streamline things, they used the computer to become Big Brother.

Speaking of Big Brother, the government is using computers to track our ways more and more and they are not the only ones. Though they do not yet use the info for such purposes regularly, they certainly can. It would not take much to make it happen. Indeed, it is quite possible that the foundations are in place.

One of the uses that management has found for computers is in fast food. Most of the major chains have computers tracking how long it takes to process an order. While I am not completely in agreement with the use, it does help to make sure the that the guests receive their order in a reasonable time. It does have a problem. Most frequently, the employees simply delay in taking the order. This allows the staff to apparently provide fast service, though the computer is collecting false data. Recently, McDonald’s has started using kiosks to take orders.

I have had the opportunity to use them a few times and I now have an opinion about them. On the positive side, the staff no longer is able to corrupt the data. The computer times the order from when the customer completes the order until it is completed. Also, the employee brings the order to the customer’s table. For me, that is not a big thing, but I do realize it is for some.

On the negative side, the kiosks are difficult. For me to say that it is something. I was a computer operator for about twenty-five years. It takes me twice as long to enter the order on the kiosk than to provide the order the old way. Moreover, I am not sure of what to do next after each step. The other day, the employee entered the order on the kiosk, and even she entered the order slowly.

I am afraid this was one step backward. The fault, as usual, is not the computer but rather those who programmed it. My personal opinion is that the project will likely go through a number of revisions in the next few years, that is, if they hope to have success with the kiosks. Otherwise, they will simply frustrate their customers. Those like me will simply go to the counter and order the good old fashioned way.

Then again, those like my wife will likely stay away altogether. She does not like computers at all and she lets me know it every chance she gets. To be sure, this is in spite of the fact that they helped me put food on the table through most of our marriage.

Concerning My Computer

Concerning my computer, there is little that will upset me more than when some big outfit will try to take it over.  In that respect, I would prefer to go back to Windows 3.1.  Back then, I installed my software and did my work.  Actually, I reformatted my hard drive 3, maybe 4 times a year.  It helped to keep things neat and I always knew I could recover from a disaster.

Nowadays, Microsoft has about put a stop to that.  Backups and recoveries, even with the best hardware, is very time consuming and iffy.  I still do the backups, but I guess I’ll wait for a disaster to see if I can truly make the recovery.

I do miss the good ol’ days of DOS in many respects.  On the other hand, I do like some of the newer software.  One nice program is Google Earth.  I have used it extensively.  So, when I got my new computer, I decided to install it.

Not only was I not able to load it, but Google took over my homepage.  Did I mention that I don’t like companies taking over my computer?

For the next few days, off and on, I tried to get back to my homepage, Firefox.  Oddly, I Googled “how to set my homepage to Firefox,” and got nowhere.  First, I could not find the URL for the Firefox page.  Second, it appeared to me that Google locked me onto their homepage.  Every time I tried to change my homepage at all, it just went right back to Google.

Finally, I figured on simply reloading Firefox.  At the first step, I saw two pseudo-buttons, one of which was labeled “Refresh Firefox.”  After I clicked on it, after a short time, my homepage was restored, even to the point that it still had all the modifications.

As I said, I like Google Earth, but not that much.  I don’t think I’ll use it anymore.

However, the main reason for my writing this is in case Google ever gets control of your home page, you know what to do to get back to Firefox.  I would like to give you the URL for Firefox, but I still can’t find it.  My URL box is effectively blank while I am on the homepage.  I don’t know how they do that.

Voting Irregularities

Winston Churchill, a wise man, said “A lie gets half way around the world before the truth gets its pants on.”  The dems and the media take advantage of that.  They say something, knowing it is a lie.  Then, if they are caught, they issue a correction.  Not only does the correction not go anywhere, the media continues to quote the lie even after the correction is issued.  So the truth dies while the lie lives on, a fact the liberal media is well aware of.  The liberals prefer to believe the lie, regardless of how unbelievable it is.

The democrats are surprised that someone wants to influence elections.  Actually, it is over a hundred years old.  During Reconstruction (what they called the time rebuilding the South after the Civil War) it was rampant.  It was the primary reason for the formation of the pole taxes, literacy tests and the KKK.  People from the North went into the South and paid Black people to vote… 8 or 9 times.  (I will give you 2 guesses as to whom they wanted them to vote for, and the first one doesn’t count.)

Almost immediately after the advent of the Soviet Union, the communists tried to affect far more than our elections as well as hundreds of others…including Germany.  One of Hitler’s main adversaries was the Bolsheviks, Soviets.  By the late sixties they virtually took control of our colleges.  They were the primary source of the anti-Vietnam war movement and I have not heard one complaint from the democrats about that.

To a lesser degree, they affected our politics during WWII.  After the war, they came within an inch of taking control of this country.  They have had their nose in our politics ever since.  To be sure, Khrushchev made it clear that he would take over our government without firing a shot.  I can’t remember who it was, but there was one commie that said that he who counts the ballots wins the election.  Even a moderately intelligent sixth grader likely knows the meaning of those statements.

When Kennedy was elected, it was clear that someone in Chicago decided to count the ballots.  Possibly, if there was a recount, the results of the election might have come out differently.  For the sake of national unity, Nixon told them not to do the recount.

To this day, precincts are reporting irregularities.  Oddly results are always overwhelmingly democrat.  Though it doesn’t take a genius to figure that out, proving anything can be difficult or impossible.

Several times, Obama said that there was no need to look into voter fraud.  There’s no cheating.  Then, immediately after the vote…guess what…evidence of cheating…by the dems.  Then, of course, the first thing they did was yell fraud at the republicans.  (The best way to cover your tail feathers is to accuse someone else.)

The fact is, we need to change our voting and registration or we will be as the third world countries.  I suggest that registration should be in person and separate from any auto license bureau.  Upon registration, a message should be sent to all other states to ensure that the voter is dropped from their registers.

When the person registers, a photo ID should be issued, which should be required to vote.  To ensure validity, there should have magnetic strip that contains the written info on the card.  When the card is presented to vote, the info on the card should be updated with the current date.  It would prevent the card from being used multiple times.  Finally, when a person dies, a message should be sent to all states to keep anyone from voting or registering by that name.

I know.  It is a lot.  But if we don’t do something, the votes of honest people won’t mean a thing.  It is a sorry state of affairs that we should need to do such things, but, as we just found out, there are people trying to steal our elections.

Certainly, there should be stiff penalties for voter fraud.  The laws should be especially stiff for those that are involved in gross voter fraud.  We should never have 2000 votes in a precinct with 1800 voters.  If there ever is such a thing, it should prompt an immediate federal investigation.

Oh yes.  I have one more suggestion, the most important.  All ballots should be paper.  Electronic voting is too easily altered.  Worse, recounts mean nothing.  Recounts of paper ballots can verify everything, including vote count.

My Mistake?

I made a mistake. I know. It is a big disappointment for you.

Before I explain what the mistake was, let me take a minute to repeat a story I heard from the late news and commentator, Paul Harvey. It seems there was an armed bank thief that decided to hold up a bank one afternoon. He walked up to a teller, handed her a note and pointed a gun at her. To his dismay, she broke into a hard laugh. Finally, the confused would-be thief turned to see the reason for her outburst. The lobby was full of men pointing guns at him. You see, the would-be thief chose to rob the bank across the street from the local FBI office. Worse yet, it was payday.

Yeah, you can file that one in the really dumb criminal file. One would think that even a dumb thief would know better than that. After all, the building was well labeled. I don’t know how FBI agents are paid; maybe it’s twice a month or maybe once. It might have been the first of the month or the fifteenth. Then again it might have been the last day of the month. Then too, it might have been Fridays. Regardless, if you have plans on holding up a bank anywhere near any law enforcement office, you might want to check on normal paydays.

Not that it matters much to the story or my mistake, but the guy just might get away with it today. Most everyone has a direct deposit these days. I know I do. The fact is, tellers are getting kind of rare. Between ATM’s and electronic banking, there isn’t nearly the need for tellers. The place I go rarely has more than two tellers, one on the drive through.

At any rate back to my mistake. I should have gone to Yale or Harvard. I have recently learned it is quite easy to graduate from one or the other or both. Then I could have gone on and become a lawyer.

I am sure you are confused. You likely think it is difficult to graduate from these well known institutes of higher learning. Some of you may have even gone to one or the other of these universities and found it difficult. I simply can’t understand why anyone should have any difficulty at all.

Let me refer you to my story of the dumb thief, a criminal incapable of putting two thoughts together. He too could have graduated from one of the Ivy League establishments. He certainly has something in common with some of the graduates. I would expect that the former director and assistant director of the FBI likely went to one of these most respected schools. Then too, Agent strozyk and his lover each other likely have law degrees, though they might have had to settle for a less respectable college. Either way, someone should have told them about emails and the internet. After all, they did use emails. I think the dumb bank robber would have known better than that. Then there is the agent who is identified only as FBI agent 2.

Then, of course there is Hillary. I understand she has a law degree too. Boy! Did she do some dumb stuff. Fact is, she should be wearing one of those orange jump suits. She would be if real FBI agents investigated her. Then too, I guess it would also take a mediocre prosecutor. If it weren’t for the need of a law degree, anyone who finished his first year of law school would do.

They all believed they were going to get away with it. Then again, they never in the world figured that Hillary was going to lose the election. It was supposed to be a slam dunk. Now, if I might use the politically incorrect phrase, they just might be in heap big trouble.

…and, by the way, the colleges that they graduated from, they just might want to do what they can to disown them. Then again, maybe not. Given what they teach nowadays, they just might be real proud of them. If that is true, I don’t guess I made a mistake after all. I just thought I did. I don’t think I would want to tell anyone that I graduated from Harvard. I don’t think I would want anyone thinking I am that dumb. (If you graduated from any of these schools, you might want to hide or rid yourself of anything that remind you of it.)

The Big Hoax

I purchased a new laptop Sunday. After getting home, I began setting it up. Almost immediately, I was notified that it needed to be updated. Approximately two hours later, it downloaded the updates, checked them and started applying them. It was about 85% done when, inadvertently, I pressed the power button and the system powered down.
Honest, I didn’t mean to. It’s kind of the problem with computers. They don’t know if something is intentional or not. I waited a while, and then pressed the button again. The computer started, but not properly. It was about then that I wished I was working with my first computer. It was running on DOS 6.1 and Windows 3.1.
I used to reformat my drive and reload everything once a month. It took a little more than any an hour… and I was working with 3.5 inch floppies. If I didn’t have the latest version of software, it was of little concern.
Of course, I had to start all over with my new laptop. Actually, it was worse than that. Before I could start over, I had to restore the computer to the point it was when it was new. That took about an hour.
When the updates were done, HP decided it needed to update my bios and drivers, so I got busy on that, close to another hour. Then, as per the suggestion of HP, I created a backup copy of my system. By the way, they said I needed a minimum of a 16 GB thumb drive.
Again I wished for the good old days. My hard drive was 40 MB. It meant that the restore volume was more than 32 times bigger than the drive I was running my old system on. Fortunately, there is plenty of room on my new system drive… one TB. I’m not sure how long that will last. I am sure in a decade or two, I might need ten TB. I’m 70 years-of-age now. I likely won’t be around in a decade.
As I sat there watching my system generate the recovery volume, I pondered what all I have gained with my new system. Let’s see. I can now interface with many USB devices. My first system could only directly access 1MB if memory, actually, there was a limit of 640 KB, but there was something of a workaround.
The old system was limited to 8 bits, though my processor was able to run at 16 bits. As mentioned, I can store 1 terabyte. For all practical purposes, it is limitless. My DOS could only access a volume of 32 MB. The rest of the 40 MB had to be formatted as a separate logical volume.
Other than that, there really isn’t that much that I can do with the modern system that I wasn’t able to do with the old one. The fact is… if Windows 98 wasn’t so unstable, I would much rather use it as the new system, even with its limits. The biggest disadvantage of the new system is that the new system keeps trying to take control of my computer. Some might like that, I don’t.
However, there are other real disadvantages of the new system. I would like to format my system disk once a month, or at least every three months. With the current system, that is not practical. It might not even be possible.
As a computer professional, I learned one of the most important things a person should do with a computer is to perform backups on a regular basis. It would appear that Microsoft has gone out of their way to make this difficult if not impossible. At best, I can back up my data. Because of their registry files, backing up individual applications is not possible. This is especially important considering many programs are purchased on line.
(I paid quite a bit for one program. When I went from Windows seven to Windows 10, the program disappeared. It is gone. If I want it again, I will have to again pay for it.)
Maybe one of the most aggravating things with the new systems is that I can no longer write programs in Visual Basic 6. I can write in the newer versions but it is next to impossible to interface to the printers with the later versions of VB. (Even the Pros say as much.) I never wrote anything professionally, but I did write many programs for my personal use. By the way, they don’t work now either. In fact, when I went to Windows 7, I had to give up all my old software. I had to start all over.
I foresee, a big opportunity for the right person. If a person releases a Windows 3.1 look-alike, I will be one of the first in line to buy a copy. Anyone with an once of common sense would join me. We have gone from a system that helps us to a system that needs constant attention. Then too, we are always susceptible to all different kinds of malware. A windows 3.1 type system would not be subject to such things. …and, by the way, I could regain control of my system.
I might have to give up a few bells and whistles. Then again, I survived them before Microsoft took over my system. I think I could survive quite nicely without it all again.
As near as I can tell, it is a big hoax. They claim we need the bigger faster computers to run the software. On the other hand, we need the latest and greatest software to take advantage of the computer’s abilities. In the end, we have gained very little, other than, perhaps a headache.
All together, before I was able to use my new computer, I spent about 30 hours on updates and such. I certainly don’t want to go through this again. Maybe next time, I’ll just get one of those other little Chrome books. From what I understand, the things work right out of the box.
To me, the new systems are one of the greatest hoaxes of the modern era. Sitting, waiting on my new system was all it took to convince me of it. Apparently, I stand alone and I don’t think Microsoft is listening to me.
Well, I now have a spare system. I think I will use it to try out that other operating system, you know, the one that is free, Linux. I’ve kind of wondered about it anyway. Who knows, I might like it enough to replace Windows 10 on my new system and sat good bye to the Microsoft hoax.