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Monthly Archives: September 2017

10 years and some advice to young people

Looking back 10 years.  

I was looking back at blog post from 10 years ago, and I was reminded just how bad those days were.  The economy took a terrible hit; it was the start of the great recession.  At the time, our son was only a year old, so that consumed most of our time, but it was hard not to notice how bad the economy was going.  

Over the next year or so, there were two rounds of layoffs where I worked.  Eventually, I think they shed over 40% of their workforce!  I weathered the recession fairly well, except for the fact a ‘new normal’ was set with no raises, unpaid time off, and a cutbacks at every level.  As a word of warning, if the company you are working for switches from Spoons, Knives, and Forks to Sporks in the lunchroom, they are in trouble.  I think we, as a country, were really changed by that recession.  The whole employer/employee relationship changed.  You could no longer just ask for a raise, you should be happy that you have a job.  For the generation that entered the workforce at the time, they will always have a skewed sense of what is appropriate or not.

For the young people out there:  You should expect a raise every year.  You should get paid vacation and sick days off.  Your raises should be more that just inflation.  If they are not, you are actually making less every year.  You should have decent health insurance.  I have heard of some nightmare plans out there, where you are more or less given a credit card, and when that money is gone, it is gone.  Your employer should work hard to retain you, not you having to justify your position every 90 days.  You should be able to work for years at the same company, no more of this ‘gig’ economy crap.  You should expect free or inexpensive coffee.  Most importantly, men and women died for you to have a 40 hour work week.  Do not let their sacrifice be in vain.

Don’t let employers take advantage of this new normal.  There are a lot of jobs out there, looking for skilled people.  If you have any skill in engineering or mathematics, the industry really needs you.  Get a STEM degree or a practical trade certification.  There are not enough graduates or tradespeople to fill the positions.  Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.  Programming is great and all, but those willing to build and fix real things in the real world are well rewarded.  Enough of my graduation speech, get out there and live!

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Posted by on September 27, 2017 in General Comments, Social

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19 Years

It made me smile to think that this humble site, cyberphreak.com is a old as google.com.

So many other sites have come and gone, but here I am, a personal website/blog is still going strong.

As a shameless plug, here are some of the sub-sites you can visit:

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Posted by on September 27, 2017 in General Comments

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10 years, same conclusion

I posted this 10 years ago! Global Warming/Climate Change: A personal perspective

I know I have only been on this Earth for 33 years, and childhood may of skewed my perspective, but here is what noticed about the local weather and how it has changed since I was a child:

  • It used to be COLD on Halloween, like snowing cold, wish I had a polar bear costume cold.   2 years ago year we were low on candy and I walked to the local drug store in SHORTS.  It was 75+ degrees.  Last year it was in the 60’s. 
  • We used to get rain here.  All day rain, or at least for a few hours.  Now it just comes in downpours for about 10 minutes and just stops.
  • It used to be snowy/cold around Christmas.  Now, we rarely get snow before January, if at all.
  • November used to be a cold and bitter month, now it rarely gets below the 50’s.
  • We used to have April showers and May flowers.  In April it rained about 3 days this year.  Similar last year.  It downpours in May now.
  • Trees bud earlier and loose their leaves about a month earlier and later now.

Let me know if you have noticed any changes in your lifetime.  It is a local event, or it is worldwide?

So here is my update:

A broken world

Now, in the second week of a record breaking heat wave, after 3 class 4 or higher hurricanes making landfall in the United States, I have to conclude that we have broken our world.

In the past month, Harvey hit Houston, Irma hit Cuba and Florida, and Maria struck Puerto Rico directly.  I am typing this in late September, in Chicago.  It is over 90 degrees.  

I really do fear for our children, who will inherit this planet when we are gone.  I already trust the climate scientists and I trust my own senses.  Rapid fire hurricanes, I hope, will be a wake-up call to the world of the dangers of global warming.  I remember when I was a kid, it was cold or even snowing on halloween.  For the past few years, it has been 70 degrees or more!  Last year, Chicago didn’t have a winter.  Really.  Less than 4 inches of snow, and over 60 degrees in JANUARY!  I know that weather is variable, but when I notice a shift, that has been happening for years, it is really hard to deny.  I know now that we are past the point of no return for at least some climate change.  With the orange fool in the Whitehouse, the United States has abdicated its leadership role in limiting climate change.  

I wish I had more hope, but with no one willing to make any real sacrifices, all I can say is I am sorry to the generations that follow us.  We knew what we were doing is wrong, but we continued to do it anyway, since we can not see anything beyond the next 24 news cycle.

 

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Posted by on September 27, 2017 in General Comments

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Tinley Park Praries

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Posted by on September 27, 2017 in Photos

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TRS-80 100 for the 21st century.

What I really want is a distraction free device.  Back in the 1980’s I really wanted a TRS-80 100 portable computer.  It was a simple, all in one computer that had a 40×8  line text display.  However, in 2017, this is just a horribly outdated device that commands a very steep price, well over $100 for a working model.  I wanted something affordable, practical, modern enough to work with modern computers, and, most importantly, be distraction free. 

The TRS-80 100

dana wireless.: you can see the resemblance to the TRS-80 100

I heard about dana word processors in the past and finally found a model that really met all my needs, the dana wireless.   It is a Palm based device, released in the mid 00’s,  I am very familiar with Palm devices and it has 2 SD slots and USB connectivity and USB printing.  It meets all of my needs, and then some.  The device also has a wireless connection, but I really have not tried that, since I wanted something to create on without the distraction of Facebook, twitter, and a host of other distractions.  Best of all, a good, working, clean model can be had for less than $25, shipped.  

This whole post was written in just a few minutes on the dana.  I have really missed a single tasking device, like a word processor.  Yes, it is a full fledged Palm based device, but I don’t have to use any of these features.  I can just press the Memo button and start typing.  I also installed a 128mb SD card, so I don’t have to worry about dead batteries and I can easily plug the SD card into any modern computer.

The device is fairly light, about 2.5 lbs, and runs off of 3 AA batteries.  The rated battery life is 20 hours, but I will see how that works out in real life.  The keyboard is full sized and has a nice travel and click.  The most endearing feature is when it sends files to your computer, via USB.  When you plug the dana in, it emulates a USB keyboard.  Just open a document, select the transfer speed, and the text in the document gets ‘typed’ to the screen.  It really is cool to watch, and makes text transfers possible to ANY computer with USB.  

I’ll update this post as I spend more time with the little word processor, but so far, it has already exceeded my expectations.  

September 16, 2017

Modified the dana to have internal NiMH batteries.

The battery indicator now show the correct levels.  When regular AA are installed, looking for 1.5V instead of 1.25 volts.  This should allow the dana to be useful for years to come. I can now charge the unit and, if the batteries fail, simply replace them with a new set in a few years.

 

 

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Posted by on September 16, 2017 in Computers

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