Robo-umps Inevitable?

Maybe. Likely. My guess is that it will become common within the decade.

My logic is that it’s all about the dollar, or more accurately, the thousands of dollars.

You see, we’re not talking Little League. Even in the early days of baseball, one call did not make that much difference. Nowadays, one bad call call can lead to the loss of tens of thousands of dollars.

One can argue that it all averages out. However, sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Can you imagine if it is the last call of last pitch of the World Series? We’re talking millions of dollars based on one call being right or wrong.

I would expect that the methods will go through changes and adjustments. I read it will be a slightly larger strike zone. That likely would increase the strikes and decrease the hits. In turn, that would reduce scoring, which might not be desirable.

i don’t know. It’s not really a guess. I’m just saying that the fans might not like it. There is simply no way to totally be sure of the results until they try it out live, perhaps in the pre season.

I do wonder how it’s gonna effect Las Vegas. I mean I do wonder. I suspect they’re already considering it, though. It will likely change things but just how is anyone’s guess.

Bottom line, it’s only important to those who hurl the ball and those who try to hit it. I guess to them it means the world. To me, not so much.

For Those Interested

About 5 or 6 months ago, I bought an Epson ET 2750 (I believe they call them Ecco Tech). It printed very nice. Then, about a week later, I tried to print something with it and I first had to clean the jets.

After a while, realized it was going to be a common problem. I realized, if I didn’t print daily, it was going to need cleaning before using it.

Frequently, it discouraged my using it because I knew I would first need to to wait for it to finish cleaning itself. This was made all the more frustrating as sometimes it needed 2 or even 3 cleanings.

At any rate, I made the switch back to laser. It’s more expensive and they use more power, but they work, even when there are a few weeks between uses.

Then too, the Epson always concerned me. Would the cleaning continue to work or would I have to get another printer anyway?

I guess that will teach me to believe TV ads, even the ones with famous basketball players.

As an aside, maybe Epson should have the things clean themselves every 12 hours, whether it’s used or not. Just a thought.

Pets? Investments?

A number of years ago, someone came up with a brilliant idea that I wish I had – pet rocks. He went out and collected some rocks he thought had the right shape and cleaned them up. Then he painted eyes, nose and mouths on them. Then, of all things, he had the nerve to sell them as the perfect pets. He spoke of all the advantages. They were easy to take care of. They didn’t complain when you forget to walk or feed them. They don’t stain the carpet or jump up on you. They don’t bark or whimper all night… etc, etc and so forth.

Oddly, people bought them by the millions. Can you imagine that people bought something you can go out and pick up off the ground. I have no idea how much he made off the idea but it was far more than I did and he didn’t work nearly as hard.

It just goes to show, you don’t need to find things people need. All you need is just the right gimmick. You come up with the right idea, no matter how ridiculous and then, instantly, you’re a millionaire.

Ridiculous as the above is, someone came out with something even more absurd, a coin that neither exist nor has any intrinsic value. The things now sell for roughly $50 grand and they simply don’t exists except inside a bunch of servers. If those computers burp, a bunch of folks will lose a bunch of money and there will be no way to recover it. I don’t think I would even think twice about investing a dime in such a thing. I worked around computers most of my life and I found there are to many things that make them burp.

Personally, I think those that bought the pet rocks had more sense. At least they had something to show for their purchase.

Then again, maybe some of those buying the non-existent coins have less than lawful reasons for making such an investment. Also, those who sell the coins might realize it. I don’t know. Just guessing.

Old Folks and Old Eyes

I am now 72.  To tell you the truth, I never figured I would make it this far.  Among other things, I had 4 bypasses during 1 procedure — over 10 years ago.  Those in the know realize that makes it about time for me have more problems.

However, what I am writing about here has nothing to do with my heart, but my eyes.  Until I was 40, I had very good eyes.  In fact, if I don’t need to focus my eyes on anything closer than three feet away, I still have good eyes.  Anything closer than 2 feet and I have some real problems.  Every time I need to read the instructions on how to microwave a dinner, I have to get a magnifying glass.  With the print size they use for instructions, my reading glasses aren’t strong enough.  I wonder if those people that make those things realize that.

At any rate, I sat down to my computer the other day, without my glasses.  Mostly I could read it.  Still there were parts of the screen where I needed to squint.  It irritated me because I left my reading glasses in the other room.  Worse, the one part of the screen I wanted to read, I couldn’t.

It forced me to leave the computer and walk to the other end of the house to get my reading glasses.  The thought gave me an idea.  I don’t know.  Maybe someone already thought of it.  It would be sort of nice if one portion of the screen could be displayed at 2 or 3 times normal size.  I’m not sure how it could all be worked out, but I think us old folks might really appreciate it.

In the meantime, I guess I will need to rely on the old methods.  I went out and bought a large magnifying and tied it to my screen.  That way, I won’t have to deal with another problem I have after getting old, a bad memory.  I already lost two magnifiers.

Color Me Disappointed

My oldest brother was in the Army Signal Corps.  My second oldest brother repaired TV’s and then became an engineer for a big radio station.  My third oldest brother had a degree in electronics and a master’s in math.  He designed computers.  It only made sense that I would become involved in electronics.

Unfortunately, I was somewhat dyslexic, though I was never diagnosed with it.  By definition, dyslexia is not caused by trauma.  Because I had two traumatic events in my early childhood, I might not be dyslexic, even if I meet the criterion otherwise.

That eliminated college.  I am prone to mistakes when I write and I can’t type.  I simply cannot complete a term paper.  Also, I would have never been able to complete college English.  I have this problem with homonyms.  I know the difference between there and their, but, for some unexplained reason, I occasionally use the wrong one.  Worse yet, I have a problem with spelling.

Nowadays, we have word processors that help somewhat.  Still, even after checking and rechecking my work, mistakes get by me.

Still, I did get into electronics.  I went into the Marines and completed a 16 week electronics course in thirteen weeks.  I graduated second in the class.  (I think the other guy cheated)

The last week of the course was on computers.  In 1969, computers were still somewhat new.  Many banks just began using them.  Most TVs used vacuum tubes and transistor radios had just come into their own.

So, at that time, there was little time spent on computers in the school.  However, and this is the whole point of my post, the instructor said something about computers that I still remember, “The only reason for computers is to save time.”

Though one of my brothers designed computers, the thought really surprised me.  Over the years, I thought about the statement many times.  To some degree, the statement is still true.  However, today we have at least three more reasons for computers, graphics, entertainment and saving space.

I don’t think I need to explain the first two, but saving space might not be so obvious.  We used to use fiche.  Now we use disks.  A few optical disks can replace thousands fiche.  Besides, going back to the first reason for the computer, the disk is much faster.

Unfortunately, some have found another reason for computers, keeping track of employees… or citizens.  Today, computers are being used for the BIG BROTHER effect.  Instead of the computers being used to help the employees work more efficiently, they are being used to keep a thumb on the employees to make sure they don’t make too many keystrokes on their keyboards (for example).

For a person who studied computers from my youth, it is a great disappointment.  Instead of being an aid, it allows the boss to spy over the employees shoulder.  It allows the governments to track its citizenry.

Today I am disappointed in the way computers are used.  They are used for games.  All right.  I admit it.  I do play more solitaire than I should.  Still, we have simply overdone it.  Pseudo football games are played on which people gamble, by the millions.  Some are addicted to the games to the point they ignore everything else.

Then, of course, there are those who use the computers to steal.  Some folks have lost their homes to those who know how to use the computer for this purpose.  Then, when the deed is done, almost nothing can be done to make it right.

I have seen the good that computers have done and I have seen the bad that they have done.  Like any other tool, they can be used for good and they can be used for bad.  Seeing the bad I find it very disappointing.  No one seems to care, not even a little.

If I am a computer salesman, I don’t sell to the employee.  He doesn’t control the purse strings of the company.  So, if I hope to sell the computer, I need to show the CEO how the computer the benefits management.

Now, which will have the most successful outcome?  If I explain how I can help the employee or if how easy it makes it to spy on the employees.  And so it is that the computer is abused and will continue to be abused.  I see no way to stop it.

 

So, just color me disappointed.  Instead of the computer helping to free men, they have been used to enslave them.

Now, as near as I can tell, the communists seem to have discovered computers can be used in taking over a country.  It can be used for finding the individualist.

By the way.  How can I forget one of the most obnoxious abuses of computers… Robocalls!

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.”

Epson 2760

Purchased one of the Epson that claim a year’s ink comes with it about a week ago.  I bought the ET-2760 because it was on special at Best buy.  The next one up was $150 more.  Considering that I am living off Social Security nowadays, I decided on the less costly one, though the more expensive one advertised two sided printing.

Guess what?  The ET-2700 has 2 sided printing and it is easier to use than the laser printer I was using.  Oddly, I was confused as to why they don’t mention that in the advertising or on the box…as near as I could tell.  Maybe I missed it.

The install…via USB port went picture perfect.  The only hitch was that I had to fish the ink bottles back out of the trash.  It seems that ink needs to be installed twice, once after the basic install.  No big deal.  Just thought I’d mention it in case any of you want to buy one.

I also have a second computer, my laptop, printing to the printer through the desktop system via my network.  Though the install did not go as well, it is due to Windows, not the printer software.

The printer, the scanner and the copy functions work easily.  There is a one-button color copy function.  I guess just about anyone can do that.  I suppose it gets more complex for more complex functions, such as two sided copying.  I don’t yet know if it does that.

As near as I can tell, the only thing I gave up by buying the less expensive printer is that it does not have a page feeder for the scanner, copy source function.  That is a function I would very rarely use.

One more note: They cautioned to remove all tie downs that they used in shipping.  Look carefully.  There are a couple that are somewhat hidden.

It isn’t quite as fast as my laser printer, but the ink is less expensive, I hope.  Also, my new printer will print the first page in about the same time as my laser printer warmup time.  Naturally, you can’t beat laser for quality, but this comes pretty close.

As an aside, I do like the idea that I can monitor the ink levels by just looking through the four windows on the front.  I have never seen this advantage anywhere, even in ink jet printers.  Just a glance now and then to determine when it is time to order more ink… or go to the store.

For those interested, they can tell Obama and the squad that it is likely more green.  I don’t have any sound references, but it does seem to me that ink jet printers use less power than laser printers.  Somehow, I don’t think anyone will notice the savings.  I suspect I won’t notice it.

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.

A New Use for a Robot

With a background in electronics, computers and the Marines, it is only normal I should have an interest in robots.  Already robots have changed the way we fight wars.  A drone is nothing more than a specialized robot.  It is certainly nice to be able to send out a drone to have a good look to see what enemy assets are in the area.

I saw on TV a robot that looks a lot like an ox.  The Pentagon looked at it as a vehicle to carry a soldier’s ammunition and equipment while walking behind him.  The robot they demonstrated actually had the ability to follow the soldier automatically.  It sounded like a good idea to me, but with two changes.  First, I would like to ride on the back of the robot and I would like to have two fifty-caliber machineguns mounted out in front of me.  From what I understand the defense department discontinued the idea.  The robot was too noisy.  Still, I would guess they are still looking into it.  A robot capable of running thirty or forty miles an hour for a few hours is something I would want to have on my side.

I also noticed they have two-legged robots.  They walk, run and even do flips.  I am sure there are a few Vietnam vets that wished they had something like that walking out in front of the squad.  First, the robot might be better at spotting the enemy and booby traps.  Even more, if the robot tripped one, the robot would be lost.  That would be bad, but not nearly as bad as a soldier setting one off.

The robots have many other uses too, that is, besides the assembly lines.  Think of it.  A surgeon in Seattle can perform procedures on a man in Nome, Alaska.  In addition, the surgeons can use the robots locally because the movements can be more precise than a human’s hands. Also, they can access very small places.  I suppose the robots have other advantages in surgery, but I’m no expert on it.

In a related field, bionics are making large strides.  In the near future, people who are paralyzed, or even missing legs, will walk as well or better than those of us who still have our legs.  It beats using crutches.  I know.  I had to use them for quite a while after breaking my ankle.

Of course, one new field for robots is in cars and trucks.  In the near future, most of us might not drive our own cars.  Though it produces a whole new set of problems, the robots will likely be much safer.  They have instant reactions and they don’t get distracted.  Some people would likely insist on doing their own driving, but eventually, all cars will be driven by a computer.

I suppose I’m not telling most of you anything new.  Most of what I have written is common knowledge.  However, I think I have a new use for a robot; one that no one else has thought of.  They could build one that would MC the OSCARS.  Just think; it would have no prejudice.  It wouldn’t laugh at its own jokes, and its feelings wouldn’t be hurt if people made fun of it.  Then of course, the biggest advantage would be that it would have no history.  No one could find something that it did forty years ago while in the first grade.

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.