Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jeep Seats and Dog Beds

We got Lettie Thanksgiving week, 2002 if my math is right.

She was our little Black Friday Purchase. 

We were living in a three floor "farmhouse" in Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia that I truly enjoyed for those years.

With three floors there were plenty of rooms for a dog to find a comfortable spot, plenty of furniture for her to rest on.

We stopped that with one notable exception that I had no control over.

You see we had to.  Since it was November, the weather was cool.  When the weather got warmer, Our Lettie got fleas that first spring.  That stopped her from sleeping on the bed, and any other furniture.

But she was smart.   She knew that when we were out, she had free run of the house. 

Three floors of rooms.  

Sure, we'd close certain rooms off like the bedrooms, but there was one room that was just too small to bother with.   It was also the one room without a door.

The third floor rear as we called it.   It was a small room with a sloping roof so that I couldn't even walk on the back half of it without ducking down or walking bent over.  

It was a pleasant place to watch the back yard grass grow, and since it wasn't large enough to do much more with, it also collected things.

We would get things brought in the Jeep Wranglers we both drove at that time, as much as we could fit in them so that shopping was called "Filling A Jeep". 

When I took long trips, I would remove the back seat in the Jeep and put it out of sight and out of mind.  Eventually that ended up in the third floor rear room next to one of those small half windows in the back of the house.

Lettie discovered that and made the Jeep Seat her own.

It was coincidentally placed so that half of the day it was in the sun.

Yes, the dog had discovered a perch above the trees where she could watch the squirrels in the back yard, sun her bones, and do it all on a dog sized couch that really belonged in the Jeep.

I didn't realize what was going on until one day I got in the house and she didn't notice it. 

Loading up all the groceries into the kitchen I went looking for her.   Softly I climbed the stairs to the third floor without squeaking that one tread half the way up the flight.   Looking right to the front of the house, nothing was there, but she was watching me from the rear on the seat.

Caught.  When I looked at her, her ears went down and she wagged her tail walking over to me.

What else could I do.   She found her place and I had created it for her by shopping for the house.

The seat was rarely used as a seat, so it stayed out of the car most of the time.  Perfectly sized, and luckily treated with fabric treatment, it was fairly clean.  In fact, that seat is in my car to this day, the third Jeep I've had.  I stopped wear and tear by putting a blanket on top of the seat as a slip cover, and more mats strategically placed through the house.

Those mats lasted her life, and when she left us in April this year, Rack began to use the same mats, still strategically placed through the house here in Florida.

I have the same blankets to this day.  Every so often I look up and see her sitting on the blanket on the beige seat in the sun, one of the benefits of having dogs that looks so much alike that they're never completely "gone". 

They're just resting in a quiet and sunny corner of the mind.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Test Your Virus Scanner With EICAR

This would be a great time for me to say this is At Your Own Risk, and I'm offering no support if your scanner does not work... You're on your own pal!   

This "virus" simply displays a text string and sends control back to the operating system.

Have you ever wondered if your virus scanner actually works?

I don't mean surfing one of "Those" Sites with a .RU at the end of the address.  This actually downloads a "harmless" virus that won't trash your computer.

In the case of this machine I'm writing on, the EICAR Test Virus downloaded and Microsoft Security Essentials brought up an ugly red box warning me that it had been quarantined and I'm safe.

The reality of this is that had I downloaded a different virus that wasn't in my "signature file", I would never know but that is the essential problem with any antivirus product.  They are only as good as the company that backs them, and how good the team is behind the product.

So make sure you know how to update your virus scanner - for Microsoft Security Essentials, the signature files come through Windows Update or clicking on the little circus tent in your task bar.  Other virus scanners will vary.

Update your virus scanner to current, which is a good thing no matter which virus scanner you use, or how often you tell the computer to check.

Then follow this link to the EICAR download page.
EICAR is the European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research.
You can read more about their mission in the wikipedia page if you want a shorter description.
A short description of the virus test file is at this wikipedia page as well.

Click on the appropriate download for the virus.

Wait for it to download and watch the fun begin when your virus scanner hopefully picks this up and tells you it has been quarantined.

When you're through having fun, find the quarantine section and you can tell your antivirus product to remove the Test Virus.  Since there are so many different antivirus programs, you are on your own there.

If your antivirus program did not detect the EICAR virus I would strongly recommend getting a new antivirus.   Like I said, Microsoft Security Essentials worked like a champ and you can get their antivirus at this link for Windows 7 and earlier - it's built in on Windows 8.

The video I embedded shows what it looks like with Kaspersky Anti Virus.   It's a silent video except when the virus is caught.  It makes a Pig Squeal sound which was a bit jarring, so put your volume down to medium and it won't be a shock.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Taste of the Holidays in July

Saturday Mornings have always been time to stretch out and do things a little differently.

In College, after practice, I'd head home and start cooking the carbo-load I needed after time on the river.  It would be a large plate of French Toast on order before moving onto more pressing matters.

This day, I stood in front of the kitchen window wanting something just a little different but wasn't sure what.  Plus the French Toast was a little too much different.  Surveying the Honey Drink, Iced Tea, and Coffee for later, I was looking around the kitchen and spotted the little bottles sitting by the range.  They were left over from a Holiday Care Package my sister had put together this year in December, and they gave me the idea I was looking for.   We ship each other boxes of offbeat gifts, mine are mostly baked, my sister using her creativity for finding some fascinating things that I enjoy deeply, later.

A collection of seasonings and syrups, flavored sugars and cocoas, they sat around waiting for me to realize what to do with them.   Cinnamon Sugar got used making Hotteoks.  The Cocoa was used in baking a cake.  I had moved away from a daily flavored coffee when I began roasting my own beans, the bitterness banished to the Starbucks from whence they came.  Flavoring coffee became a whim, simply not required, so it was a small luxury.

My sister specialized in finding gifts that I would not get for myself, but always found some profound thought in them when I put them to use.  I still have the shirts she got me when I lived in Pennsylvania on Top of the Hill.  Where she managed to find just the right size of "long" tailed flannel shirts for my tall frame always had me wondering - even I could not find them.

These syrups were left over.  I decided that the peppermint coffee syrup was going to be used next, but the vanilla would add a little smooth sweetness to this morning.  Stirring in the syrup, cooling down the brew with four ice cubes, we walked outside to survey the morning by the pool.  Mr Dog and I walked once around the yard, him sniffing lemon trees, and my sniffing vanilla and coffee and remembering my sister well.

Thanks, Pat.  You made Saturday Morning a little bit sweeter.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Seniors in the Waiting Room - Humor

Ear Infection

This is so true! They always ask at the doctor's office why you are there, and you have to answer in front of others what is wrong and sometimes it is embarrassing.

There is nothing worse than a Doctor's Receptionist who insists you tell her what is wrong with you in a room full of other patients.

I know most of us have experienced this, and I love the way this old guy handled it.

A 65-year-old man walked into a crowded waiting room and approached the desk.

The Receptionist said, 'Yes sir, what are you seeing the Doctor for today?'

'There's something wrong with my dick', he replied.

The receptionist became irritated and said, 'You shouldn't come into a crowded waiting room and say things like that. '

'Why not, you asked me what was wrong and I told you,' he said.

The Receptionist replied; 'Now you've caused some embarrassment in this room full of people. You should have said there is something wrong with your ear or something and discussed the problem further with the Doctor in private.'

The man replied, 'You shouldn't ask people questions in a roomful of strangers, if the answer could embarrass anyone. The man walked out, waited several minutes, and then re-entered.

The Receptionist smiled smugly and asked, 'Yes??'

'There's something wrong with my ear,' he stated.

The Receptionist nodded approvingly and smiled, knowing he had taken her advice.. 'And what is wrong with your ear, Sir?'

'I can't pee out of it,' he replied.

The waiting room erupted in laughter...

Mess with seniors, and you're going to lose.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Clues You Might Be A Redneck

You can entertain yourself for more than an hour with a fly swatter.
You've ever been pumping gas and another customer asks you to check his oil.
You think the Bud Bowl is real.
Your dog goes "oink!"
You think the Nutcracker is something you did off the high dive.
Your mailbox is made out of old auto parts.
You know how to milk a goat.
Your kids have a three-day old Kool-Aid mustache.
Your TV gets 512 channels, but you go outside to use the bathroom.
You've ever stood outside a bathroom and heckled someone inside.
Turning on your lights involves pulling a string.
You have a refrigerator just for beer.
You come back from the dump with more than you took.
Your wife owns a camouflage nightie.
You've ever worn cowboy boots with Bermuda shorts.
You don't think baseball players spit and scratch too much.
You think the Styrofoam cooler is the greatest invention of all time.
You take your dog for a walk and you both use the same tree to relieve yourselves.
The most common phrase heard in your house is, "Somebody go jiggle the handle."
You can't take a nap without at least one hand tucked inside your pants.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Rogue Crosswalks - It's Been Done Before

I was going through some oddball websites looking at things at random and realized I had heard of this before.

At one point I was sitting in a meeting with a number of local officials discussing something very important but very dry - Crosswalks.  You see, the law states that if there is an intersection, and a reasonable person expects a crosswalk to be there, it is there.

Now, sure that's a gross oversimplification, but basically that's the germ of the idea.   I went into greater detail about this before, and at that meeting I quoted all those dry statistics to the Chief of Police and the City Manager as well as the rest of the board.   While there was a lot of handwringing about the state of walking in Wilton Manors, nobody had a really good suggestion.

I made the comment that we should just get a bunch of people together at 230 in the morning before anyone was awake, after the bars close, and just go out and paint crosswalks where there legally should be one.

Predictably people said You Just Can't Do That, and It Has To Be Done To Code and some other vaguely confusing and slightly imposing comments about breaking the law and so on.

Not that anyone took up the banner and painted any new crosswalks in the city, it still looks the same as it ever was here.  This is the city that took many meetings to make sure that the crosswalks in the heart of town were just the right shade of rust red to match some arbitrary standard of beauty from someone long gone.  Never mind that in the Florida Sun, anything painted any color will eventually fade.   You can expect that.

On the other hand, I was greatly amused today to find out that someone had done exactly that - repaint some worn out crosswalks... In Tacoma Washington.

To paraphrase the movie Saving Grace - It's good to know that they are keeping up the tradition of total contempt for the letter of the law.  Great movie, I highly recommend it.  I'm overdue for a rewatch.

Well meaning people going out in the wee hours repainting things is an amusing concept, although it could easily render things much worse than they actually are.   Personally I'm more in favor of moving things like low hanging umbrellas in front of bars that take up the entirety of a sidewalk as well as trimming overgrown branches from trees when they're needed.

Not that I'd carry a pair of angle cutters with me on a dog walk, mind you, but that is an amusing thought.

So put away the bucket of paint.  You might annoy someone with that even if it does draw attention in Tacoma.   I'm just amused that it happened before even if it didn't happen here.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Did You Ever Have A Bad Technology Day?

I should have known when I walked outside and heard Fort Lauderdale farting from across the river that today would be weird.

Getting out well before dawn, I walked Mr Dog out on our normal morning mile.  Rounding the corner near the park, I heard a sound.  A strange farting sound that I only had heard once before.  That had started me looking for a toxic cloud until I realized that the winds here predictably come from the East.  Yes, the ocean breezes saved me from the Mosquito Spray Truck that was dispensing death to all those many creatures that will hone in on my scent and try to turn me into a giant blood sausage.

Expecting strange we soldiered onward.  This being a noisy town, I wasn't surprised to hear the 6AM train on the distant FEC tracks, the traffic on Wilton Drive, and the general background 60 cycle hum from the many air conditioner compressors.

Not a quiet town.

But all of that is a normal part of living in the Not Big City that is South Florida.   Pretensions of small towns aside, we're in the middle of a sprawl of 7 or so million people, someone somewhere is going to drop a dish.

Getting home and going through the motions of operating the washing machine on super-duper-extra-hot to sterilize the dog's mats, I settled in for a morning.  While the laptop is behaving well, the network was not, so I ended up having to reload pages one handed.  You see, the mosquitoes are not the only thing that wanted to turn my arm into a blood sausage.  I had 40 plus pounds of playful dog insisting that my right hand was his play-toy.  Slowing life to a more relaxed pace, Mr Dog wanted his attention for the better part of an hour.

While I'm sitting there watching this bundle of black and white fur and energy gnaw on my arm, I'm getting messages coming through on my professional account.  Between printers breaking, computers acting strange, and someone just not having time to get to that meeting that he wanted with me early in the morning, I realized that the entire world was stuck in second gear today.

Miraculously, I managed to get a break, a solid 10 minutes of productivity when Rack the dog decided I'm Done and trotted off to his crate.  The big yellow school bus trundling by my house apparently over the speed limit seemed to help his decision while I get working on a phone call.

Many tech support woes can be solved by a simple axiom "Did you try restarting your computer?".  That's the Tech Support equivalent of "Did you Jiggle The Handle?" - great way for you to delay while you think about things like the true solution of the problem, or whether you really need that second mug of coffee.

Coffee almost always makes things better, and there's just enough time before that rescheduled meeting to meet the need.

Meanwhile, the washer that was supposed to be finished two hours before, finally gathers itself up and realizes that it's got a full load inside and snaps with a volley of beeps for attention.

Webpages set aside with a shrug, virtual servers started, it's time to get up and do something else.  Even the washer is running slow.  May as well step back and let it happen.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Easy Cinnamon Muffins from Scratch - Recipe

They really are easy.  They're also much better for you than the original recipe.

You see, this started as an Ina Garten Recipe, the Barefoot Contessa, that I modified.

More that I changed the process to make it work for me.

Originally these were Donuts.   Now while everyone loves donuts, I didn't want fried, and they were a little large.  I managed to get 16 muffins instead of her 12 donuts, so I didn't feel bad about having Icing on top.

I also don't have a donut pan for baked donuts so I got to thinking.   Ina made the comment that this was a thin or loose batter, and she was right.  It was about the same consistency as any cake or muffin batter so why not try muffins.   Muffins are basically cupcakes, so I may try this as an actual cake since they did turn out light and fluffy. 

A wee bit of science here.  Mixing flour and water gives Gluten.  That's fine in bread, gives good texture, but with a muffin you want light.  So mix gently and use an all purpose flour or experiment with a cake flour with this recipe.

The taste comes from the Cinnamon and the Sugar and who doesn't like that?

Ina's original instructions are here on her web page, but the recipe is below for your convenience.   I really do recommend her recipes, they're usually quite good.

This is the recipe for the batter only.  If you want the original donuts, follow this link.

Here's that process...

  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • Stir the dry ingredients well or sift them together.   I used a stand mixer and gave it a couple pulses just to stir it up.
  • Mix all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  • Add the wet to the dry and mix them lightly until the batter is smooth but be careful not to over-mix.  Over-mixing makes this recipe "rubbery".
  • Bake in Muffin Cups - 1/4 cup per cup.
  • 350F for 17 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean when pierced through the top.
Dry Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hotteok 2.0 - Now With Sesame!

As entertaining as I find cooking, I try not to do this sort of thing too often.   It's way too easy to blow off an afternoon making goodies for yourself and others and end up being big enough that you are a center of gravity.   It would get embarrassing if NASA called and said, stop you're making the satellites orbit strangely, wouldn't it?

But, I did have to bake this weekend.  I had finished off the last of the rolls in the freezer.  Off to the kitchen I went and made up a batch of Pat's Pizza Dough bread.  That's my Go To recipe when I want a nice, firm, and tasty loaf of bread or rolls.

When I pulled the dough out of the machine, I looked over at the collection of spices and flavorings and decided to get creative. 

Hey, want some Hotteoks?
Yeah!  I love Hottoeoks!  What Kind?
I'm going to try something different.   Just wait!
Ok... Looking forward to it!

Hotteoks (Ho-Ducks) are a dough ball flattened.  Drop a little sweet or savory in the middle, fold it up like a dumpling, and drop it on the skillet.   Press down with a spatula until it's nice and flat.  Cook in a little fat until that side is toasted, flip and repeat.

That's all.   It takes about 5 minutes to cook.

I did say I got creative.   The last four dough balls out of the 10 that I made were going to be standard Cinnamon Sugar Hotteoks.  I rolled them in Sesame Seeds and let them rest on the plate as I put a thin film of Sesame Oil on the non stick skillet.

The house immediately filled with a Sesame perfume both nutty and earthy.   The smell was strong enough that it drew the dog out of hiding and Oscar the Parrot started calling out to me.   I guess they were hungry.

One of my simple pleasures in life is that when I get a bag of Sesame Bagels, to munch on the leftover seeds in the bottom of the bag.  It's not something that happens often, but when I do get them I do enjoy those seeds and the leftovers on the "rolling plate" didn't go to waste either.

So snacking on Sesame Hotteoks was going to be a treat.   They were just as good the second day, cold out of the refrigerator.   Hotteoks, or Korean Donuts, simply don't last around this house.   The Yeast Risen Dough was flavorful and gummy, the filling melted nicely and formed a gritty caramel for the second day, and went down as a prized snack.

As a benefit I did have 6 rolls for this week in the freezer.  They should run out just in time for next weekend.  If I have the free time, there may be more Hotteok in our future.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Little Play, A Little Thumb, A Little McNab Dog

It's happening.  Rack has finally decided to play like a puppy. 

Oh, sure, he'll chew up his toys.  He's managed to strip all the limbs off his "Mean Cat" plush so that now it's more like a Mean Torso, and he's shredded his little purple teddy bear so that it finally went for burial in the bin.

That all is great, and expected.  Even when Lettie was in her last few months, she would pick up the toys from time to time and give them a great big flap. 

Puppies have their mouthy moments.  They happen when you're petting them and all the sudden you become a chew toy.   Rack is now about 10 months, pushing 11.   Since he's my McNab Dog rescue, we really only have an approximate age.   So we've decided he's a September Puppy and we'll call it September 11th.   Easy enough date to remember due to its other much more dark connotation.

With a puppy, they'll mouth anything they can.   Laying on their back, legs splayed in the air, wiggling like a worm, you will find that their mouth is wide open looking for something to put those sharp puppy teeth onto.  That all takes some confidence.   If that puppy was a rescue, and especially shut down as Rack was, finding that today was the first day I became a chew toy is actually a good thing.

I was sitting in my chair after the first walk, minding my own business.  My right arm was being occupied by an upside down dog who required it.   Petting his belly itself says "I feel safe and comfortable and accept you as my lead".  Fearful dogs don't completely accept that, nor does your Alpha Dog.

Every so often, my right hand needed to be given back to the task, opening up a new web page or typing in some command on the black laptop.  Every time the hand would go away, it would be watched expectantly for its return.  Every time it returned, the play ramped up, it became a wee bit more playful, more happy for the return.



I realized my forearm was cold from the dog slobber on it, and my thumb was buried among wet canines and a big pink tongue.

Yes, I became a large chew toy.  My dog was sucking my thumb.   Weird enough when I said that to myself, I pulled the thumb away from the pain and moved my hand back to his belly.

Well THAT lasted all of about 23 seconds when...

Nom Nom Nom, my fingers became chew toys and the rear feet were pushing my forearm toward his mouth.

I can see that being truly "productive" would have to wait, I had a puppy's mouth to fill with my right hand.

I'm a big furry salt lick with interesting things to chew these days. 

I've had puppies before and we all have had the pleasure of a warm furry ball of fluff cuddle up to us with razor sharp teeth that were teething on us.  This wasn't that, this was a mild statement of arrival and acceptance of place.  This was a formerly shut down dog saying I've arrived and I'm part of the family.

It is a long journey from cowering in the back of a shelter to The Mat next to my chair and gnawing on my right hand.  It took three months.   That is a long time in the life of a puppy.  It takes a while to become the chew toy of choice.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Here Are Some Guidelines For Life - Humor

Some General Guidelines

1. Never take a beer to a job interview.
2. Always identify people in your yard before shooting at them.
3. It's considered tacky to take a cooler to church.
4. If you have to vacuum the bed it's time to change sheets.
5. Even if you're CERTAIN that you are included in the will ... it is still considered tacky to drive a U-Haul to the funeral.


1. When decanting wine, make sure that you tilt the paper cup and pour slowly so as not to "bruise" the fruit of the vine.
2. If drinking directly from the bottle, always hold it with your fingers covering the label.


1. A centerpiece for the table should NEVER be prepared by a taxidermist.
2. Do NOT allow the dog to eat at the table ... no matter how good his manners are.


1. While ears need to be cleaned regularly, this is a job that should done in private using one's OWN truck keys.
2. Proper use of toiletries can forestall bathing for several days. However if you live alone, deodorant is a waste of money.
3. Dirt & grease under the fingernails is a social no-no, as it tends to detract from a woman's jewelry & alter the taste of finger foods.


1. Always offer to bait your date's hook, especially on the first date.
2. Be aggressive. Let her know you're interested: "I've been wantin' to go out with you since I read that stuff on the bathroom wall two years ago.
3. Establish with her parents what time she is expected back. Some will say 10:00 PM; others might say "Monday". If the latter is the answer it is the man's responsibility to get her to school on time.


1. Crying babies should be taken to the lobby and picked up as soon as the movie has ended.
2. Refrain from talking to characters on the screen. Tests have proven they cannot hear you.


1. Livestock, usually, is a poor choice for a wedding gift.
2. Kissing the bride for more than 5 seconds may get you shot.
3. For the groom, at least, rent a tux. A leisure suit with a cummerbund and a clean bowling shirt can create a tacky appearance.
4. Though uncomfortable, say "yes" to socks & shoes for this special occasion.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

You See, This Cowboy Walks Into Town And...

My oh my!

The sheriff of a small town walked out into the street and saw a blonde cowboy coming down the walk with nothing on but his cowboy hat, gun and boots.

The sheriff arrests him for indecent exposure. As he is locking him up, he asks, "Why in the world are you dressed like this?"

The cowboy says, "Well it's like this Sheriff... I was in the bar down the road and this pretty little redhead asked me to go out to her motor home with her... and I did. We went inside and she pulled off her top and asked me to pull off my shirt. so I did... Then she pulls off her skirt and asks me to pull off my pants so I did...

"Then she pulls off her panties and asks me to pull off my shorts, so I did... Then she gets on the bed and looks at me kind of funny and says, 'Now go to town cowboy...'

"So here I am."

Friday, July 19, 2013

Your Software Is Secure - Or Is It?

There's a quote out there that goes:

If you're not the customer, you're the product.

That's directly applicable to any bit of "Free" software you use.  If there's an ad being shown, if it asks you to install a different browser or tool bar, if there's an offer to download 10 free MP3s - You Are The Product.

Fair enough.

There are exceptions to that rule.  There are a lot of excellent pieces of software out there that are free with no strings attached.  No phone home tricks, no advertising, and no other gotchas.   Those typically are called "GPL" or "GNU Software" or "FOSS".  I do most of what I do on Windows, however off that windows machine, I live in that FOSS world of Linux.  If I want a spreadsheet, I merely download Libre Office and I'm happily counting away my beans.

I guess the fact that there is no support network provided with most of that kind of software means I'm still the product but I'll ignore that.

Once you leave that world of Windows or Mac OSX where you pay and expect complete discretion (and you would be wrong), or Linux where the power of Open Source means you have thousands of eyes looking at the software and putting out a warning that your operating system might be spying on you (Ubuntu), it gets a bit questionable.

The assumption is that with your shiny iPad or iPhone, Apple is looking into that for you.   It's not completely clear that that is true, and rumor has it that it isn't.

On the other hand, Android does warn you when your phone or tablet is being asked to sign away your information.   You can still allow it, but it does warn you.   The idea is that the user is expected to be an educated Android user and actually stop and look at the warnings.   On the other hand, when is the last time you took the time to read an EULA (End User License Agreement)

Exactly, even I just skim them.   If it says it's GPL, I assume it's OK, otherwise, you may get one  of those programs that says that if you send an email to a specific address, you "win" 1000 dollars US.   Yes, that happened, once, and it took five years for anyone to find it and collect!

The most egregious use of the person being the product lately is the Jay Z app called "Magna Carta".  Download and install the app and you get to join in and help to promote his CD of his latest "songs".

Great, if you like that sort of thing.  On the other hand people did start to read what the app wanted to do to your Android phone.   It basically demanded full control, including your personal details, it wanted to start at start up time, and demanded access to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  The assumption is that it was going to go out and put postings to those accounts in your name saying how much you were enjoying his "songs".

Rap.  Bleah.  But he's making my point for me.   It does not say that Jay Z is doing something with all that information, it merely says that the software has access to it.  He is using people as marketing tools to build the social buzz on Facebook and Twitter.  He may never use any of it, and that access may not ever be used, but it begs the question:

Is that in your benefit?
When you go to your app store, look around and ask yourself do you really need it?   That app will probably slow your phone or tablet down whether it is on the iPhone or a shiny new Android Tablet because it will want to start up when you turn the thing on.

Is that in your benefit?

That app may want to know who you called today, and forever.

Is that in your benefit?

That app may want access to whatever is running at any given moment.

Is that in your benefit?

The answer to all of that is no. 

Especially that last one.  If you use a smartphone to do your banking, your banking details are POTENTIALLY exposed to any app that is running at that time.   Want to share your bank account information with me?  I didn't think so, but would you with an app developer?  That answer should still be no.

The best thing you can do with that phone is to make calls with it and keep it clean of unneeded software.  That includes free or paid apps.  There's too much risk these days.

Sorry to bring bad news but there are some questionable people out there.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Echoes of Betty's Dish

The story of Betty's Dish is one of those that every family has.  There's always some Family Nuttiness that happens that recurs every so often.  Random events like someone made a recipe differently and now it HAS to be done that way every holiday season because one specific aunt or uncle likes it that way.

Betty's dish went back and forth over the years and eventually passed into the haze of history.  It was a cornflower blue Corningware casserole that my Aunt Betty started bringing with her from her home in Queens, NYC, to our place in suburban Cherry Hill, NJ.  Eventually it either stayed with Mom in Jersey, or went back to NY with Betty. 

We never were completely sure, but when Betty decided the one that Mom had wasn't the one she was missing, we all considered the issue closed.  After Mom died, I even tried to give Betty that one lone casserole dish saying "it's the only one left, she'd want you to have it, please take it!".  Needless to say that dish is still with my sister, or at least was the last time I saw my sister back in 2006.

Within our broader family, any time something goes back and forth inexplicably, it becomes Betty's Dish.  In this case, we just had another Betty's Dish begin this week.

When Kevin returned from visiting his Mom in Philadelphia last week, he came back with a bag full of things his Mom insisted he needed.  A mostly full bag of all purpose flour, one bottle of ready made iced tea, a box of cookies (MINE!), and other odds and ends.   We called it "Shopping At Mom's" because if you are an adult and visit your mother's home, you undoubtedly will return with more than you left.

In this case, mixed in with the other flotsam inside of that now out of place bag from Acme Markets sitting on my kitchen island was one small plastic food container.   Proudly stamped with the brand Ziploc, it sat there begging the question:

Kevin, why do you have a Ziploc food container?
Mom insisted that it was mine.
But... It isn't.  You don't have any of those containers.
I know, but it's Mom.
So now... what... we have a new Betty's Dish?
Who's dish is it?
Probably my sisters.  Never mind, we'll put it to use.
Yes, but knowing your Mom, she will remember and ask for it back.
I know, I know.
So you'll be carrying it back and forth from Florida to Philly every six months just to keep her happy?
Oh for crying out loud, I'll make cookies for her then.

So there you have it.  We now have a new tradition.  It's not Betty's Dish, it's Mom's Ziploc, but it's just as nutty.

I will try to pass that little plastic container off at parties.   If I have to bring some condiments, it's a perfect size and we just bought a big box of plastic containers so I could have an excuse to recycle all those yogurt containers that I used to put things in.

Yogurt containers are a story for another day, but if you see me coming with a smallish ziploc container that I magically forget, just consider yourself the latest recipient of the Hot Potato in the game.   Pass it on to someone who can use it.  I'd just rather not see it go back to Philadelphia and confuse Kevin's Mom.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Apparently, Rack Makes Little Old Ladies Happy

This would be the picture, but I am getting ahead of myself.

After going out to the markets, settling in, and putting on some silly TV show, Kevin got a call from his mother.

He was gone all last week visiting her at her place in the Philadelphia Suburbs.  She's living in a community up there and is getting on quite well.

They were discussing the pictures that he had taken up there, and I would get bits and pieces of the conversation.  It seems that last time up he took a picture of the dog, Rack.  Mind you, these aren't you wallet size pictures.  Each of these are printed out in full color on letter sized paper.  Rack, in all his glory, on 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper is staring back at Kevin's mom from her refrigerator.

When he got off the phone, I was told that his mom really did like that picture, so much so that my large format, matte finished picture is being passed around the home.

Yes, I have a "Cover Dog" for the seniors.   His picture made it to at least one of her friends and lives on a couple of refrigerators around the community.   Apparently, his face makes them smile. 

What happens is that when he goes up for his visit to Mom, the takes up a stack of photos.  They are the cream of the crop, the best of what we've taken over the last few months.  All printed out in large format since when you're older your vision isn't quite up to Fighter Pilot Quality, and the best are framed.   There are always reprints and extras as a result since some of them turn out quite nice.

So my dog, who they have never met, is making little old ladies, that I have never met, smile and feel good.   That in turn made us both feel good.

Good boy, Rack!  Everyone should make their seniors feel good once in a while.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Web Annoyances - Websites Where Keyboards Don't Work

This one gets me a lot.  
It's so basic that I have to wonder who on earth is making these web pages? 
Worse, who on earth is approving and testing them?

Oh, that's right, you can't do Proper QA any more since everything is written overseas on the cheap.

You get what you pay for.

Rant aside...

For the most part, even now, the place most people are doing their "heavy duty" web surfing is on a browser.  I'm basing that on this blog's statistics, and I feel confident that that feeling is backed up by most web services.

The proportion is roughly evenly split between Internet Explorer, Firefox (and its variants), and Chrome.

I personally have noticed this on Firefox and on Internet Explorer, on Windows, Linux, and on Mac OSX.

It just doesn't happen on a tablet or a phone since the way you use a webpage is different there.  You only have a mouse (touchscreen), you rarely have a keyboard.

I notice this on a daily basis on, but it also shows up with many other oddball sites.

Here's how to find the problem on Monster:
  • Surf Monster and do a search.  Doesn't really matter what kind of job you search for, your own zip code will be fine.
  • You will be presented with a list.  Pick one from the list.   It doesn't really matter which.
  • Now that you are looking at a page, a job really, use your Page Up or Page Down keys.

They don't work.

You actually have to click inside the body of the page to get the page to move.   You can tab around, cursor around, whatever you choose, but it just doesn't work until you click inside the page.

If you are a web developer and call this done, you are bad and you should feel bad.

Zoidberg doesn't like you and neither do I.

This also works with the Windows or Linux alternate page down, the space bar.  

Navigation is simply locked down until you click inside the page.

My best guess is that it's a function of working with the software behind the scenes (Ajax) and having reworked your browser so that all the keys are forced to do a certain special task.  Don't know but it's still wrong.

Now go back and fix your web page.  That's a rookie mistake.  If you're good, Robot Santa may leave you a gift.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Four Parts Salt, One Part Pepper, Five Excited Dogs

You will have to excuse us down here in South Florida.   We may be a little cranky.   If so, it's because we may have a little extra moss growing on our North Sides.  It's been a long weekend, if not a solid week of some very heavy rains that got in the way of our usual outdoor plans.

When your house has "outdoor rooms" you get a little claustrophobic when you can't use them.

The rains would let up just long enough to get out, inspect things, pick up others, and get back under cover before the next rain would start. 

Even the Dog Walk Hour would get truncated to fit between thunderstorms and general weather yuck.  When it would let up, I'd grab my nearest computer and check radar.   If there was a gap coming up within the next half hour, I'd be making my plans to run out the door with Rack the Dog in tow and do a quick lap around town.

I know I wasn't the only one doing that because the neighborhood was chock full of people who I know by the dogs being walked first. 

Rounding the corner, I spotted the twin white German Shepherd Dogs, and the couple walking them.  Being abysmal with names, I didn't know them that well, but I do know the dogs, and they did like Rack.  Rack spotted them and began pretending he was a Kangaroo. 

Leaping into the air and yipping with joy, my black and white puppy was shoulder high with excitement.

We all met up at the corner, two white German Shepherds, my black and white McNab, and paws and puppy play all around.  Rack making a racket, yipping, the German Shepherds rolling in the wet grass and reaching out with paw to play.  

A pause in the action happened when Rack spotted The Girls.   The Girls are sister Samoyeds, giant puffs of white fur, just past puppy-hood themselves.  I knew at this point it was going to be chaos.

The Girls, since that is how the neighborhood seems to refer to them, were straining at the leash to get to the party, Rack wagging his black and white tail and slapping the two German Shepherds in the face with it.  

I made sure there was a strong grip on the leash, the German Shepherds' owners were laughing at the scene as their two dogs stood up.

At that point it was a bit of a blur.  Four large white dogs were wrestling on the ground, leashes tangling, with my own black and white Rack weaving among the pile.   It looked like someone tossed a bit of pepper with the salt, a giant pile of canine excitement.   Any hope of control that the humans had at that point went right out the window, and there was puppy joy for all, even those dogs who were past that sort of thing themselves.

Four female dogs, and my male rumbling around in the grass, you know there was going to be a favorite somewhere.   Fiona, the Samoyed and Rack the McNab were the couple.  The German Shepherds realized they were the odd dogs out and slowly unraveled themselves from the writhing mass of fur, owners backing off and saying it was time to look into dinner.

Rack was climbing on top of Fiona who was laying flat on the ground.   Happy sounds muffled by Fiona's paw in his mouth, Rack was using this much larger dog as a chew toy while sister Olivia was howling in amusement.

Long lost furry friends, out on a grey evening between passing showers, greeting each other in a pile.

Just as with children, the excitement peaks then wanes.   Something was on the air and all the dogs sensed it.   Their owner, Jim took this as an excuse to say his goodbyes, and we were all on our way. 

April Showers may bring May Flowers, but July Showers bring puppy piles of returning joy.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Rugged Outdoor Woman - Humor

The Rugged Outdoor Woman

During her physical examination, a doctor asked a retired woman about her physical activity level.

The woman said she spent 3 days a week, every week in the outdoors.
"Well, yesterday afternoon was typical;
I took a five hour walk about 7 miles through some pretty rough terrain.
I waded along the edge of a lake.
I pushed my way through 2 miles of brambles.
I got sand in my shoes and my eyes.
I barely avoided stepping on a snake.
I climbed several rocky hills.
I went to the bathroom behind some big trees.
I ran away from an irate mother bear and then ran away from one angry bull Elk.
The mental stress of it all left me shattered.
At the end of it all I drank a scotch and three glasses of wine.

Amazed by the story, the doctor said, "You must be one hell of an outdoor woman!"

"No," the woman replied, "I'm just a really, really terrible golfer".

Saturday, July 13, 2013

This Ad Got 15,000 Plus Responses - Humor

This ad got 15,000 plus responses


Seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I'm a very good looking girl who LOVES to play.

I love long walks in the woods, riding in your Ute, hunting, camping and Duck shooting, cozy nights lying by the fire.

Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. Rub me the right way and watch me respond.

I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me.

Kiss me and I'm yours.

The ad, was for a black Labrador Retriever.

Friday, July 12, 2013

How Not To Get Your Dog To Stay

You know when someone just has no control over their dog when you see this sort of thing happen.

I know that my own control over my dog is "developing", he's a puppy, but then again...

Well here's the story, see how many training mistakes you can find.

I was walking my dog through the neighborhood on a quiet back street.  There was someone coming around the corner with their dog, an older medium sized dog.   The two dogs begin to meet and are doing quite well, I explain mine is a puppy so I'll hold him back and let the other dog gauge if he's too intense.

Rack absolutely LOVES other dogs, but he gets very jumpy.  McNab Dogs can jump easily 5 feet from a standing stop.  Best not to let him jump.

When we hear a woman shout with a French accent, "No, No, No!  Come Here!  I will have to discipline you" and a wall of other random commands.  

She clearly didn't have control of the situation.

Lumbering toward us was a middle aged chocolate lab.  Clearly obese from the waddle the dog was trying to pass off as a run, the dog had the leash trailing after him.

I lift my own dog up off the ground so I could better control him.  Dogs off the leash can go any which way from sweet to violent, and we've seen them all.

She catches up to her dog who's leash had been captured by the other dog walker.  All the while saying sit, stay, and other things, the Lab had simply been sitting down acting happy to be around his own kind.

The leash is handed to the woman who is struggling with some packages, when she starts to say "I have to discipline you, I have to discipline you, Sit!"

The dog was already sitting, I don't really know how much More it could sit, but OK, it made her happy.

Alternating between "Sit", "Stay", and "I have to discipline you", she got to the front of the dog.  Grasping his muzzle from under, she lightly swatted it.   It was clear the dog knew that it was coming because it visibly flinched from the anticipated touch.

Just as quickly, the third dog walker and I begged off and got out of there.

So here's my take on it.

Perhaps I could have left my own dog on the ground, but he's a puppy with a LOT of energy.   I know that may have over energized the situation, so with three dogs involved, best to remove one from the equation.  He's better every day, but he is a puppy.

The other dog was older and much more calm, although smaller than the rest.   It handled itself well.

The Lab simply had no respect for it's owner's commands.  Seeing it from the dog's eyes, no matter what I do, I'll get swatted on my nose for not obeying a wall of commands.  I'm confused, not sure which one to follow, and from history I know it's not going to turn out well.   May as well just go on and have fun before the swat on the nose happens.

The owner of the Lab was the problem.  Trying to do too much as it was, loading groceries from an early morning run into the towers at the south end of town, the Lab's leash slipped out of her overfull hands.   Probably as she opened the doors to the apartment tower, the dog spotted us and decided to join in the fun.

One command at a time.  Let the dog be a dog.  Swatting a dog or otherwise hitting it says more about your own state of mind than the dog's, plus, let's be honest, it's violence against the dog.  If someone held you under the chin and flicked your nose because you wandered off, you would not enjoy the experience either.  It simply does not mean anything to a dog other than pain.

In case you can't tell, I don't believe in hitting a dog in the case of training.  It happens, but usually because the owner is too freaked out by what happened because they didn't read the signs.  I know from my own experience with two different McNabs, all I have to do is bellow one word, "BAD" and the dog caves in and stops what it's doing.

In my own training, BAD is the Nuclear Option.

There is "The Touch" if you ever follow Cesar Millan's shows.  Looking at your hand, imagine a ping pong ball being grasped by the tips of the fingers.   Fingers are stiff, and the hand is used not to slap but to touch the dog on or near the neck.  The dog's brain interprets it as an Alpha Dog had just corrected it by grasping it by the neck with it's mouth.  The end result is a dog who has its focus brought back to task when they are doing something that they shouldn't.  But even this was inappropriate with the situation since she had long lost control of the goofy chocolate Lab.

There is a need for some remedial training there, well before this dog gets out in public again.  If the dog doesn't come for you, then it doesn't completely respect your authority.  Nurturing Dominance is the goal, not running across a parking lot screaming a wall of incomprehensible commands like SitStayNoStaySitI'mGoingToDisciplineYou all at once.  But Nurturing Dominance takes something most people don't have - Patience.

The trick is to work with the dog before it happens to do something "wrong".  The dog is good at being a dog, but you are asking them to be more.  You have to actually ask them first, before the situation happens.  Gain trust and take the time.

It's a marathon, not a sprint.  It's a lifetime relationship, not a single event.  Take the time and work with them.  After all, you didn't learn how to walk on your first day, it took quite a few stumbles and falls that you forgot about before you could run across that parking lot screaming like a lunatic.

One aside.  If your dog is overweight, you need to walk them more.  Stop overfeeding them, get them out and walk that medium sized dog at least 2 miles a day, large dogs will need more.  You both will benefit from the together time, and the needed exercise.   Who couldn't stand to lose a pound or three?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Go Away Priyanka, You Are A Worm.

This Priyanka has cropped up on the tech blogs, just about everywhere that I was reading, so I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon.

Got Android?  Read on.
Got something called "WhatsApp"?  Read on.

WhatsApp is a chat client for SMS or other WhatsApp users.  Yes, Yet Another Chat Client has a worm running through it.  Pretty common these days.

It's an easy one to avoid, simply don't accept any messages from Priyanka, don't friend Priyanka... In short, ignore Priyanka and delete anything from it without opening it.

If you have Priyanka in your contacts, then it goes out and sends invites to all your friends on the WhatsApp platform in order to share in on the fun.


The instructions to get rid of them are pretty simple as well, and you can find them at this link.

I'm an admitted oddball.  I don't do SMS Texting.  At all.  It's turned off at T-Mobile, so no matter what I'm safe.

Want to talk to me, call me.  Want to send text?  Email.  Yeah I know, it's not trendy but I'm in front of a computer from 7AM until 11PM some days.  I'll leave WhatsApp on the shelf for those who are more "smartphone addicted" than I am.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A High of 84 in the Living Room

If you want to move to South Florida, you have to like it warm.

You also have to understand that things are different here.  The stability that you have in some other areas isn't completely guaranteed here.

Things work for the most part, but when they go wrong they leave you scratching your head. 

In the seven years I've lived here, I've seen water spouts, tropical storms (weak, and I've been lucky), thunderstorms that threatened to fill the street in front of the house, power "pops" on a daily basis, and wildlife that really shouldn't be here.

Don't get me started about the iguanas.  I'm thinking about finding that recipe they had in the little restaurant in Port of Spain, Trinidad for Iguana Tail Soup.

When life gives you Iguanas, make Iguana Tail Soup!   Skip the Lemonade, I'll be in the kitchen for a while.

There isn't a "perfect" place anywhere in the United States.  Even San Diego has earthquakes (minor ones, but they're there) and it's a near desert climate.  If utilities were completely cut off in Las Vegas, the interstates would be clogged with SUV's loaded up like the Clampetts heading off to Bev-er-lee within a day or three I would wager.

But here on our quirky little island smack dab in the middle of the South Florida Sprawl, you get to expect weirdness.  Nothing terribly threatening, although a tornado would ruin your day. 

When Wilma came through, my neighbors tell me, power was off on my block for two weeks.

I guess then waking up warm and sweaty at 5:30AM the other day was a minor inconvenience. 

It was 79, in the house. 

Air Conditioning is a requirement here.   We go from cooled house to chilled car to cold offices, stop off at the refrigerated mall for lunch, and reverse our paths to come home at night to our climate controlled comfort.

Sure you adjust to the heat some.  I keep my house at 78 during the day if I forget to turn the air conditioning down to it, otherwise it goes up to 80.   Meh.

But at that time of morning I knew something was up. 

We had had a shower come through, and I slept in blissful ignorance.  The dog doesn't seem to mind the weather, and the parrot is off in the living room too far for me to hear.

Every time we have a storm, we have a power surge.  I swear if you can put a personality to the power here, Mrs. FPL is a menopausal middle aged woman with bad knees and a limp.   Wilma slapped FPL's infrastructure around and it left the power creaky at best.

If we have a power surge, then anything can happen.

In our case, even though everything is on filters, the house, plus each major appliance, the router went mental.  It stopped working for us.  

It also weakened a capacitor in my air conditioning.  That capacitor took a couple days to finally blow.

Knowing the symptoms, I got a late in the day appointment to get it fixed and made sure there was plenty of ice for drinks in the house.   If it got too bad, I'd grab the dog and take him somewhere more comfortable.   As it was it only hit 84 indoors by the end of the day.

It's not even getting into the 90s yet which is a bit late by my memory for this time of year.

So while I was scrambling to restore my daily driver computer that got hit by a virus, we had to figure out the a/c and the wifi router.  

Busy day.

It was interesting to watch the dog get thinner as the day went on.   He planted himself in the middle of the living room, under the ceiling fan, on the tiles.  Spreading himself out as wide as he could get, he melted into the Florida Tiles on one side, caught as much of the breezes as possible on the other.

Just one day without A/C.  Not a major problem, and the temperatures weren't too terrible.  After all, this isn't the desert with 110 or 120F heat. 

Our Crusty Old Compressor got fixed by our Crusty Old A/C guy with a couple interesting stories about how it was Back In The Days.  One thing he said was that he's heard stories from other A/C people.   Down here, A/C repair is a racket.  They know they have you.  Billboards scream "Your Wife Is Hot" and in smaller print it says "get your A/C fixed today".  That company I have been told is a ripoff, and you really have to have a recommendation from a friend for repairs here.

The story goes that with Tropical Storm Chantal looming, and it has since blown out in the Caribbean, they were looking for more money.  You see, storms have lightning.  Lightning strikes the power lines and sends a surge into them.  Those surges blow out the capacitors or compressors and Your Wife Is Hot becomes truth and not a cute slogan.  These bozos were looking forward to "raking in the dough" - his words, not mine.

Now I understand why when a major storm is coming through, people cut power off to the house.  May as well let the next guy watch their dog melt into the floor instead of you having to do it too.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Morning Dog Walk Fogged Over by Nostalgia

We got out well before 6AM which is getting to be our normal walk these days.

Not really feeling like dealing with a dog with the morning traffic on The Drive, we stuck to the back streets in the neighborhood.  While it was much quieter, my faithful sidekick, Rack, seemed unsettled.

Normal, really, when you have a shy shelter refugee of a dog.

Getting out about 1/2 mile from the house, he started slowing down and sniffing the air.  The ears were twitching and trying to find something.  One pointing toward the front, one toward the back, Rack just wasn't interested in being out any more.

Ok, Boy, Lets head back!

We met up with one of the other dog walkers I see at the Dog Walk Hours, and realized it was getting later.  His dog also seemed a bit agitated and confused.   There was something going on on our Quirky Little Island.

Parting company, I headed Rack toward the house and the little park on the corner.

Coming closer, there was a sound.  It wasn't quite 6AM, so there shouldn't have been any construction going on.  Mechanized yard work couldn't start, legally, until 7AM.  This was the time of the morning where people got up and walked their dogs, not use leaf blowers to clear the driveway.

It sounded like a leaf blower on steroids, actually. 

Still too dark to see much other than deep blue cotton candy out over the ocean that began to catch the light from the sun rising over the Bahamas East of us, we both were looking for some sort of idea as to what was going on.

Checking the watch, 5:57AM was a bit early for drama, there had to be an explanation.

When I rounded that corner, I saw flashing lights and the sounds were getting louder.

"Lets go home, boy!" as Rack was digging his heels into the pavement and looking around from left to right trying to make sense of the sounds.

Then we both saw it.  I thought it was a large power company truck, but it turned out that it was a Mosquito Fogger.  He spotted us and cut the fogger as he passed by.  I immediately changed course to a street that the fogger hadn't been.  I didn't want to dance in the fog like we used to back when I was a child.

Silly kids.  Back In The Day, we would see a county truck back in Cherry Hill, NJ a couple times during the summer.   Whatever fog they used was so thick that the air was left a creamy white fog bank that you couldn't see from one side of the little residential street to the other.  Now that I'm older, I realize how foolish that was.

Rack and I started walking down the street behind my house.  It turned into a trot, then a jog.  Rack loved the exercise, I thought that "this isn't my sport" as we got as far down the block as we could. 

Luckily the fogger went his way and didn't come back.  We got to the front porch of my house with the weird high pitched leaf blower sound trailing off into the distance.

Happily, I walked into the safety of the house and the clear air of the Florida Morning with my dog and coffee on my mind.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Web Annoyance - The Fancybox or Lightbox rant

Welcome to my own personal rant... er annoyance.

Since this is my own personal blog, I'll keep it "constructive".  You see, I don't like it either when people get shouty.  However, whenever I encounter this sort of thing, I want to find the person or people responsible, grasp them by the shirt collars and start screaming at them.

Usually from six inches away from their nose.

Loudly and repeatedly.

What is this thing?  It's a "Fancybox".  It's also called a "Lightbox".

Yes, seriously, that is what they're called.  I'm not making this up.

It looks like this picture below.

Don't think I'm "Hating On", they aren't the only ones out there with this kind of laziness.  The idea in this case, and many others is to get the person to sign in to their website.

Ok, sure, for a couple pennies off the inflated price of whatever you're hawking, I'll sign in.

In the specific case of Yugster, their marketing is a "Deal A Day" site that grew a bit to include a few limited items.  Great!  They're usually at a good price, and I do check them out every day.


I do it VERY quickly.   It doesn't take long to scan a page and see that "nope, not today" and close and move on ...

What this site, and very many others, are doing is getting you to log in.   They then leave a cookie on your machine saying Hey!  Here's Bill again, lets change what's going on just for him and then present the page without the fancybox next time.

In one word:  Nope.

Why?  Cookies are a security problem.  One of the first things I do when I set up a computer for myself or others is to explain this, then go into custom settings.   Turn off third party cookies.  Immediately.  Then I set the browser up to delete all cookies when I close the browser.

The second one is important.   Sure, it's convenient to have your browser remember you and your signon, but what about your banks for example.  Most banks do not do this, although Chase does seem to depend on cookies for some strange reason.

Here's the deal.  You sign on to their website, it places a cookie on your laptop.  You go on about your business blissful in knowing that These People Remember Me!  Yay, I'm warm and loved in happy cyber land!

Now I go out to The Mall.  I want my laptop since my partner intends to go shoe shopping and I already bought all the shoes I need on deep discount via the web months ago and they're taking up space in my closet behind the dog crate.

Go, Me!

I'm sitting in the food court with my shiny laptop and get hungry.  Getting up, I walk over to the Chinese place and decide that I need some Gung Po Chicken and a large diet iced tea.   Turn around and a shadow passes through my peripheral vision.

Going back to the table, I notice my laptop is gone.


Now, some people don't have a laptop with a password, or are so dumb that they made the password "1234" or "qwerty" or some such simple crap.

That nefarious character has your laptop, got in, and is now snooping around your favorites.  Finds your bank and bang, he's in.

All because of a fancybox.

Yes, It's a flight of fancy, but it illustrates a point.  The idea that you can expect to keep those cookies intact is a truly bad one.  It doesn't have to be a laptop, your big beefy dinosaur of a desktop machine will be one of the first things to go when your house gets broken into.

Still feeling good about that warm plate of cookies and your fancyboxes?

It isn't so much that these websites believe that everyone must stop and log into their sites, its that once you do that, they expect you to want instant access to their site, always.

Bad idea folks.

So if you don't want to be lined up against a wall and told how nasty your website is, leave the fancyboxes and lightboxes off.   They're a bad idea.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Cowboy Went into this Saloon - Humor

You knew sooner or later, I'd find a "This Guy Walked Into A Bar" joke!

A cowboy rode into town and stopped at a saloon for a drink.
Unfortunately, the locals always had a habit of picking on strangers, which he was.
When he finished his drink, he found his horse had been stolen.
He went back into the bar, handily flipped his gun into the air, caught it above his head without even looking and fired a shot into the ceiling.

"Which one of you sidewinders stole my horse?!?!?" he yelled with surprising forcefulness.
No one answered. "Alright, I'm gonna have another beer, and if my horse ain't back outside by the time I finish, I'm gonna do what I dun in Texas! And I don't like to have to do what I dun in Texas!"

Some of the locals shifted restlessly.
The man, true to his word, had another beer, walked outside, and his horse has been returned to the post.

He saddled up and started to ride out of town.

The bartender wandered out of the bar and asked, "Say partner, before you go... what happened in Texas?"
The cowboy turned back and said, "I had to walk home."

Saturday, July 6, 2013

An Elderly Couple on a Cruise - Humor

An elderly couple were on a cruise and it was really stormy. They were standing on the back of the boat watching the moon, when a wave came up and washed the old woman overboard.

They searched for days and couldn’t find her, so the captain sent the old man back to shore with the promise that he would notify him as soon as they found something.

Three weeks went by and finally the old man got a fax from the boat. It read: ‘Sir, sorry to inform you, we found your wife dead at the bottom of the ocean. We hauled her up to the deck and attached to her butt was an oyster and in it was a pearl worth $50,000 . Please advise .’

The old man faxed back: ‘Send me the pearl and re-bait the trap.’

Friday, July 5, 2013

Doing Virus Remediation - On Myself

We all eventually get them.   Computer viruses.   They're vile and pointless and will waste a lot more time than you would expect.

How I got this one, I don't know.  Surf a Russian Website?  Clicked on the wrong link?  Reading the wrong Subreddit?  Just don't know.

We found something wrong with the network here and checked Comcast.  They had problems in the neighborhood.  So resetting the cable modem, and powering off all of the computers and phones that have Wifi on them was in store.

When the computers came back, all was well.  That is until I started to surf on the main daily driver that I have.  Pages didn't load, or loaded in minutes to hours to never.  Finding a problem after a computer restart is the way many people will encounter a virus or trojan.  Programs get "updated" but don't take effect until you restart them.

It's been a lot of downloading antivirus programs on other computers, and finding out which one is going around the laptop causing problems.  Microsoft's antivirus and virus remediation programs did not find a problem.  Kaspersky's virus removal tool ran and didn't find anything either.

When I powered off the laptop it put me into the "System Recovery" routine on Windows 7.  That is never a good sign.  Blue screen on Windows 7?  Yes, it still happens.  

I'm limping along.  There's an old backup on a hard drive I may have to restore from.  Luckily, I have another hard drive I can swap in to do the restore on before I trash what I have on this one.  Confused?  Sure, but join the crowd.

If you're still reading here's what I did wrong:

Backups are old and infrequent.
I open more than 400 web pages a day for professional purposes.
I may open close to that 400 web pages a day for entertainment.  I'm a heavy reader.

Here's what I did right:
Virus scanner is updated daily.
Virus checks are done weekly.
The entire computer is scanned when I do it manually after a manual virus update.

I guess I didn't listen to what I tell others.  The cobbler's children often have the worst shoes.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy July 4th! Now, Go Get the Pets Indoors, Please!

I saw this picture on the Facebook Feed yesterday.  It was posted by my Godmother, and good friend, Kathie.   She is much more aware of Animal Issues and Animal Rights than I am, and I'm quite in awe of some of her activities.

But the picture passed and I went on with my life.

I thought I had forgotten about it and went on my life, that is.

Things were fine until after dinner.  The traffic died down after the rush hour and all was quiet for my Simpsons Reruns, and the other oddball shows we ran last night.  On comes the Dog Whisperer and I didn't think much about the noises until the one dog came on that was much more shut down than Our Own Rack was. 

You see noises are a trigger for fearful dogs and they make them want to run and hide.

The dog on TV lived in Temecula California, and apparently that's a big Hot Air Balloon area.  Beautiful rainbow blobs of fabric floating gently in the air until ...

WHOOSH!  The flames go on and give it a boost to get over the rise and into the thermals.

They went on talking about Thunderstorms, which Rack seems to be fine with, and other triggers.

All a part of where you live.   This particular dog dug a hole THROUGH the cyclone fence in the back yard and ran into the front yard so it could scratch at the front door.

I looked over at my own Rack and noticed he was gone and hiding in the crate.

We hadn't noticed but the neighbors were setting off firecrackers down the block.   Rack Did.

The rest of the night we noticed that he was hiding until the dog walk before bed. 

Rack's mood was subdued as we met up with The Girls, sister Samoyeds who he will leap five feet in the air to see out of sheer delight.   He only jumped a little bit as there were mortars in Fort Lauderdale a couple blocks away shooting fireworks into the skies.  None of the dogs were in their right mood last night.

Since today is the Fourth, there will be more fireworks.   I will try to treat Rack like I did Lettie - turn Storm Time Into Play Time by giving him a chance to play with his toys, and hopefully redirect that energy, but when it turns dark, I am sure he's just going to want to hide.

I love fireworks, but for many dogs and cats, they are a trauma.  They will escape to perceived safety whichever way they know how.  Don't leave them outdoors tonight if you are in one of those areas with neighbors, friends, and family shooting off the Rocket's Red Glare in celebration.  Bring them in and let them hide under the bed or in the crate.  You'll have a better time of it in the end.

One dog training Helpful Hint.  If you pet your dog and coo at them while a fireworks display has them freaking out, you are not helping them.  Allow them to calm down before you pet them because that will associate your petting and acts of kindness with the noises and freaking out - it's not completely productive.  Try to let them work it out on their own when they're in a fearful mood.  Remember this "thing" is not something they can understand fully, so the reaction makes sense to your furry friend even if it doesn't to you.

Oh and don't forget your outdoor cats as well.  You may not see them again either.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Project

So how many times have you heard that phrase?

"Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth".

I usually start my own variant of it when I'm in the kitchen.

"Git!  My Kitchen!  MINE!"

People being social beings tend to gravitate where others are.   Prepare food and now you have cause and effect. 

Throw in a dog or a parrot or both and now you have a very full stew pot.

No, I'm not suggesting that you cook your faithful companion, feathered or furry.

When I'm in the kitchen puttering about, there's a much higher chance that I'll be joined by one of three critters in my house at least for a sniff around.

Usually the largest of the critters will mutter an apology and try to be scarce, or at least as scarce as possible.  The other two will either shout out a cheery Hello! or sniff a wet black nose around the corner while twisting his spine into a neat S Curve and sprawling in the entryway in the most inconvenient way possible.

Does that extra "help" speed up the task?  Nope. 

Trying to make a holiday meal doesn't work when you have a house full of cooks unless they all have their tasks laid out in front of them ahead of time.

Making bread does not take two people.  However when the second person arrives, it's always best to "give them a job" and ask them to go fetch something.

That's why the midwife on TV programs will tell the "expectant Father" to go boil water.  Giving birth rarely requires boiling water, and it will remove an extra pair of hands while that pot is boiling. 

Go make us a spot of tea, pop, you're in the way.

Recently I've found out that mindset has a formal name to it in Project Management.  It is called "Brooks' Law".

Fred Brooks was a person who managed large software projects for IBM back-in-the-day.  His observation was that throwing new people at a project didn't make it finish faster, it would simply slow it down.  Reason is that you have to bring the new people up to speed first and that slows down your most productive workers.

To Quote:  Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.

Too many cooks again.

Once they're up to speed, you have all those extra "interactions" forming a bit of drag on the system and slowing everything down.

If it did indeed speed things up, that extra body, it means you didn't have enough hands to get the job done when you started so sometimes ... you just might have to throw people at it.

Just not when you're baking bread.  If I'm cooking, I'll tell you "Git!  My Kitchen".

You'll get your rolls later when they're done, sorry.  Here, have a glass of Iced Tea.

The corollary to Brooks' Law is even more telling.  Just don't boil that water because:

"Nine Women Can't Make a Baby in One Month."

I'll have that Iced Tea now. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Training Drivers with Light

I walk a lot.

A minimum of 3 miles a day, but sometimes as much as 5.  Depends on my mood, the weather, and time of day.

If you have a "herding dog" or a "stock dog" and live in a city, you're going to walk them.   If you don't you're going to have a problem child driving you crazy.  Trust me, walk your dog.  You'll get a lot out of it, and so will the dog.

It's one of the reasons I'm in the shape I am.

There is a rub here.  South Florida doesn't believe in Sidewalks.

That took an adjustment, moving from Philadelphia area where not having a sidewalk in front of the house was an exception.  A rare exception in fact.

Wilton Manors and most of the older areas "East of 95" in Broward County tend not to have sidewalks.  The result is that you're walking in the street or on the first six feet of the property.  That's called the Swale here, basically you're maintaining the area and it's semi-public access.

The problem is not the lack of sidewalks.  The problem is that if you're in a car you are speeding.  Ok, not a complete fact.  My little-old-lady neighbor drives her pickup truck very slowly around town, but she's the exception and not the rule.

Most of you people on your way from Point A to Point B are speeding.  Yes, Five Over is speeding.  If the sign says 25 and you're doing 26, you're speeding.

So people from Up North come down here and are flying all over our streets with people walking on the edge of them with their dogs that are no longer bored and are basically acting clueless.

That's where the lights come in.

Walking the dog means you sometimes have to "Pick Things Up" and since I have yet to be in a neighborhood that has appropriate levels of lighting on the streets, you need a flashlight.

Over the years, a flashlight went from being a joke to something quite useful.  With LED lighting, they can be so bright that you get the typical warnings.  "Do Not Shine Light Into Eyes".

You know, Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Ball?

So I'm out there with my LED Flashlight.  One of those "Do Not Taunt" kind of lights.  The penlights went from being a candle to being a 25 watt light bulb focused to a point.

Mine is a 1200 lumen monster that runs on a laptop battery cell.  That's basically a 75 watt light bulb in my hand.  I can light up a parking lot with no trouble on that walk that is frequently more than an hour before sunrise at the push of an orange button.

We're walking a boisterous Mc Nab Dog puppy bouncing around who is mostly black with a white collar, "Shepard's light" and blaze down his nose.  A car approaches and I shine the equivalent of a reading light on a dark dog in the middle of a dark block.

...and the Skies open with the Choir Eternal...

Cars shift lanes or stop and wait.  They avoid us because they can't understand where all that light is coming from that is shining on the pavement.

A glowing dog in the middle of the dark, a right leg with a sneaker glowing, and a large pool of brilliant white light.

Yep.  That will do it.

Much easier than jumping off the pavement into a yard that has been indifferently maintained, shining a flashlight and turning your feet into a beacon by a small handheld appliance is an interesting way to help  people maintain traffic laws.

We got started doing this because there are too many speeding and DUI cases around this area.  They leave the bars and fly through the neighborhood seemingly aiming at you with their 2 ton metal beasts wondering "How Many Points is a Dog Walker Worth These Days".

A 75 watt light bulb will sober them up fairly quickly.  Technology to the rescue.

Lately, a lot of bicycle riders are taking this technology to heart.  I've seen people riding around with simple "blinky" lights on their bikes.  That's sufficient to adhere to the law of "bikes must be lit at night".  On the other hand, folks are getting quite creative.  Take a strip of LEDs from your holiday lights and wrap your bike's frame in them and you're all the sudden very visible.  It's entertaining seeing a bike moving around at 10PM in the dark glowing in four colors and blinking in time to an unheard beat.

You do certainly see them when they come near and that is the purpose of all that light.  To train the drivers to slow down and take notice.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rack Meets The Pool

Having a swimming pool in the back yard, there's one thing you have to consider.  Your Dog.

In my case, there's an in-ground pool that has a deep end that I've been told is much more than usual these days.  More than my own 6'4", it demands respect.

Since I have a dog, it is time to consider just how well he can swim.  The only way to find out is to get him in there.

Here's the rub - some dogs love water and some hate it.  Mine seems indifferent to it.

But you do need to get him in there.

Now you can get your dog in the pool in many ways, the stereotype of a Labrador Retriever Puppy jumping in on their own is a stereotype for a reason.  On the other hand, a Bulldog might just sink like a stone.

The main thing is that you have to supervise them.  Letting your dog out in a back yard with a pool or a creek or some sort of water with you standing inside the house, well that's simply stupid.

Our first time with Rack in the back yard had him walk out the door, sniff the pool, then walk away to the palm tree and lay down.  He claimed that as His Spot.

Great.  I'm safer knowing that he's not going to dive in and I'll have to perform CPR on a puppy.

Yes, I'm trained.
No, I prefer not to use my training.

We let that ride for a while.  Rack gained his curiosity and his confidence but never stepped in the pool.

Finally the wet season hit us as well as the normal Florida Warmth in early summer.   The pool water is a toasty 86 and I took the opportunity to do a little cool down after pulling some weeds.

My one neighbor thinks Virginia Creepers are pretty.  I disagree since they end up covering my hedges like a blanket.

After filling one trash can and making a dent in the second I got out of my shoes and T Shirt and "Accidentally Fell Into The Pool".

Rack seemed intrigued but didn't really want to take the step.  Fortunately I had some jerky treats that we put into a bowl and took out for this little plan.

Between my being in the pool and his own curiosity I was able to get in to stand over the water and get a snack.

Still I didn't pull him in.   I didn't want to make this a traumatic experience for him.   It took me about another 20 minutes until I realized that he had wandered to the fence and found a T Bone from the dog next door.

Not knowing how nasty that might be, I walked over and took the bone from him while lifting him up.  It was time, and I had the excuse.

Dropping the bone in the trash, I stepped into the shallow end.  Rack had no idea what was up, but didn't like the idea of being in the pool.  I didn't think he would.

He stood on my legs and acted fearful, which wasn't a shock.  After all, he was known as The Shy Dog when I got him from The Dog Liberator almost three months ago.


He didn't completely freak out.

Knowing that this was going to be stressful, I didn't keep him in the pool for long.  I moved, he slipped, and ended fully in the water.  That lasted all of about 15 seconds until he got his purchase and walked out of the pool using the steps.

I learned a couple things.

First, he can swim so the pressure is off.
Second, while this can be stressful to the dog, it needs to happen, eventually, and gently.
Third, slow and steady wins the race.  It happened so it doesn't have to happen Every Single Day.  That could be a way to make a dog into a cowering mess if they're not ready.

The most important thing is to do it gently and let the dog guide you with how much they are able to take.  Use treats to get them curious enough to get close.  Don't let your own pride get in the way causing you to make a mistake and force the critter into the water.  After all, this is an initiation rite - they may actually enjoy it.

Finally, if they just hate the water, you have to learn to accept that and regroup.  It could be that you approached the process with the idea that you are going to force the dog into the pool - that's absolutely the wrong idea.  They can read your energy better than you can in many cases. 

The process for me took 20 minutes of my dawdling and bobbing around in the full sun of the South Florida Afternoon.  Another 10 minutes and it was over and done with for the day.  But we're safe.  He can swim so I won't have a bad accident on my hands if I'm in the kitchen and my attention strays to what I'm making on the stove.

Besides, he'd much rather sit under that palm tree looking content like this.