Listen! Please!

Recently, I went into a Burger King.  The woman behind the counter asked me what I wanted.  I told her a Whopper… then, before I could get another word out of my mouth she asked if I wanted the meal.

The woman had asked me a question and then didn’t let me finish my answer.  That is impolite, not to mention, not very efficient.  Nonetheless, I know it is part of their training to push the meals, so I ignored her interruption and told her, loudly I might add, “A large onion ring and a large drink.”

Then, when I received my order, guess what, there was a fry.  If I had looked, it was on my receipt.  I ask you, how did she hear fry when I said onion ring?  Did I make a mistake?  Highly unlikely, being as I made it a point to say onion ring.

I have heard it said, if you really want to be a success in life, learn to listen.  In this case, the woman didn’t listen.  She was so disposed to give me a meal that she thought I said fry.  I suppose, to some degree, it was my fault.  It is not the first time it has happened.  Most of the time I correct it before I pay for it.  In this case, it was a real problem.  I don’t like Burger King French fries.

Well, maybe it is just as well.  On this particular day, I cut down on my fried food intake a little.  However, it is frustrating.  In this case, I didn’t get my onion rings.  On the other hand, in industry, or in the military, not listening can be costly or even tragic.  It can cost lives.

I know it is a little matter, but maybe those who run Burger King, or any fast food outfit for that matter, should teach their employees to listen.  It might save more than a customer’s anger.

I might add, sometimes customers don’t complain.  They just go away, and the manager or owner never knows why.  By the way, it wouldn’t hurt for our representatives to listen now and then too.  For over a decade, most of us have been saying, build a wall.  The only one who seems to have listened is President Trump.  The rest ignore him and us.  Same for Obama Care, but more so.

Revisiting the Chairman of the Board Effect

There was a time that, when my headlight went out, I went to the local store and bought a replacement.  Oddly, they  were sort of standard.  There weren’t but about three types.  Then I popped the hood, got out a screwdriver, and a couple of minutes later, the light was replaced.

Not only did it take just a few minutes, it also took just a few dollars.

Today, things are different.  The little lamp is fifty dollars and it takes another fifty to put it in.  It is impractical to replace it myself.  The car has to go on a lift and the steering wheel has to be cut all the way to one side.  Even then, replacing the lamp is difficult.

That tells me something about those that built my car.  It is not used by those that design it.  It certainly is not used by the chairman of the board.  If so, things would not be built that way.

More than that, it does make me wonder about the motives of the design engineers.  It seems that they have made it difficult to repair on purpose.  They don’t want customers like me fixing our own cars with a screwdriver.  They want me to come back to their garage to get it fixed.  That is something I avoid.  I don’t go back to the dealer unless I have to.

A Few Words About Self-Driving Cars

I am sure there is much to be said about this subject, but let me start with the obvious.  I would suspect there are hundreds, maybe thousands of lawyers that are salivating at the prospect of taking some big company to court over an accident piloted by a computer.

First, there is the possibility of suing the car manufacturer.  Then they might sue the company that built the computer, or one of the sensors.  Then there is the software company or person who wrote the programming of the computer.  Then again, why discriminate.  They can sue all of them and let the jurors sort it out.

Each time they level a lawsuit, it means 40% of something they would be able to put in their pocket.  My guess is, few if any of the suits would go to court.  The defendants would not want to set any kind of precedent, so they would likely settle out of court.  They would admit no guilt and the plaintiffs would agree to drop the suit.

It would mean, after an accident, the lawyer would raise his hand and say “Suit,” and the defendants would ask how much.  Then, the nation would have two more instant millionaires,  The lawyer and his client.

Then again, I’m not sure.  It might be four more millionaires.  It is entirely plausible that the parties from both cars might sue to to get a piece of the pie.  On the other hand, what if there are more than two cars involved.  The little glitch in the software just might cause a ten car pileup.  I don’t want to even think about that.

The point is, the lawsuits are no longer limited to the tens of thousands of dollars that an individual driver can cough up.  We are talking megabucks now, millions of dollars over what we now call a fender-bender.  Every dent is a possible lawsuit.

It is all ironic.  Eventually, the driver-less cars will be safer than those driven by humans.  It is quite possible that the computer just might reduce crashes and deaths on the highway.  The computers, after all, have three advantages over humans.

Computers are not distracted.  That little instant that a man takes his eyes off the road to look at that barely dressed woman will no longer be a problem.  That misbehaving child in the back seat will not keep you from seeing that car pull out in front of you.  Moreover, should you nod off from staring at that endless ribbon of highway, it’s no problem.  The robot has it all in control.

It takes us humans about 1/4 of a second to react to an emergency.  From the time we see some child dart out in front of us to the time we put our foot on the brake, it takes at least two tenths of a second.  On the other hand, the computer would apply the brake in millionths of a second.  Even at thirty miles an hour, a car can travel quite a distance in a quarter of a second.

It has often been asked, what if the computer fails.  What if a component goes bad.  Today’s computers are incredibly reliable and will likely become far more reliable in the future.  On the other hand, we humans can and do fail from time to time.  I have known of many accidents that were the result of someone pressing on the throttle instead of the brake.  Then too, there are a few of us that are old.  If a heart goes out while we are driving, it can cause people to die… besides the heart attack victim.  Besides, even young people can have heart attacks, or black out from other ailments.

In the long run, computers will be far more reliable, though I would still be hesitant to put my life in the hands of one.

However, until something is done with the legal aspects, autonomous cars will continue to be the exception rather than the rule.  It means that women will not be able to put their makeup on at seventy mph and men will have to ignore that good-looking woman walking by.  As usual, it will be the lawyers that will impede the progress.  Even when it makes the roads safer, the driver-less cars are going to have to wait.  There is no way that our legal system will be able to handle it.  Our courts will be so backed up that they won’t be able to deal with the less important things… such as rape, robbery and murder.

Besides the legal problems, there are the recalls.  One accident, and it would likely result in the recall of millions of autos.  Talk about a nightmare.

Then again, there is one thing that I am really looking forward to… keeping all those alcoholics from driving.  That in itself would save uncountable lives, pain and suffering.  The problem is, as long as lawyers make the laws, driver-less autos will remain quite rare.

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.

GAS TAX??!!

I heard someone else suggest increasing the gas tax, this time federal… 25 cents a gallon.  Easy assumption.  The man does not have to eek out a living and drive fifty miles each way for work.  He certainly doesn’t have to drive a hundred miles to and from work each day as some do.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe he drives an electric car.  At present people driving electric cars don’t pay gas tax.  (I suspect that will be changed soon, though I don’t know how.)

On the other hand, he might use a subway, train or bus to go to work.  He’d not pay a penny for gas tax, leastwise not directly.

Regardless of his method of transportation, he likely doesn’t have to give up groceries to pay the taxes.  He likely doesn’t hurt to pay the bills as most of us do.

There is a solution for building and repairing highways.  Stop squandering the money they have.  Obama was authorized a trillion dollars for “shovel ready projects.”  I believe he should have to repay it.

I still don’t know where that money went.  Maybe it’s time for the government to pinch their pennies for a while.  Maybe it’s time they stop squandering it.  Then maybe they will be more careful with it.  (I don’t hold out much hope for that.)

If you agree with me, send this to someone else.  Send this to your representatives.  Yell it from the housetops.  I’m not sure, they might increase it anyway.  It is what the government does.  It is what they do.  They tax and they spend.  What else would they do.  What else can they do.  Oh, yes.  Make laws.  They do have a tendency to mess that up too.