RSS

Category Archives: General Comments

15 Years

It has been a while since I have posted, but I have big news!  After 15 years, we are moving to a new house!  For the last 15 years we have lived in a Cape Cod style home.  It has served us well, but there were things that we just could not change, like the location and the stairs/laundry arrangement.

So, after a decade and a half, we decided to look for a new home and we finally found one that fit the bill.  I am 45 years old, so the stairs are starting to take a toll.  We both wanted a ranch.  Luckily, in the southern suburbs of Chicago, ranch style homes are very popular.

We were looking for several years and working hard to make it possible.  Moving is never an accident, I assure you.  The wife and I toured many homes, I would guess close to 20, if you include open houses.  We did really like one home, but the seller really did not want to work with us on the price and the house was not really that great for us.  We ended up looking at another house in Mokena and just fell in love with it.  The layout is just what we were looking for and it has some bonus features, like an impressive fire place, that really sealed the deal.  Say what you want about huge banks, but when Chase says you will close in 21 days, you will close in 21 days!

A week after we closed we moved into our new house.  It took about a month to unpack everything.  This post is going up 1 month and 1 day after we moved, and I have just 2 more boxes to empty in my workshop.  So far, our son just loves his new school.  We were planning on finishing the year in his old school, but the commute and other issues were just too much.  He just loves the new school, so it is a win-win.

The whole area is much better than I expected, quiet, birds chirping all the time.  As with any house, there are minor things to fix, but nothing too out of the ordinary.  So far, so very good.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather
 

Posted by on May 3, 2019 in General Comments

Leave a comment

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!

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather
 

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

Leave a comment

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:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather
 

Posted by on September 27, 2017 in General Comments

Leave a comment

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.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather
 

Posted by on September 27, 2017 in General Comments

Leave a comment

How to not get hacked

Hacking, in the sense of a remote compromise of a networked or local compromise of a computer, is your data being accessed by parties unknown.  Hacking has evolved from simple phone phreaking (ever wonder why cyberphreak.com is spelled with a ph?) to curious individuals, to corporations, to, now, entire governments being behind and subject to hacking.  

I have been using computers for over 30 years and there is one thing I know:  If someone wants your information, they will get your information.  I don’t care how many firewalls or intrusion countermeasures you have, what operating system you are running, or hardware you are running; if it is networked, they can get in.  If they can get local access to your machine, they will get in.  

If it is hopeless, what can you do to keep sensitive information?  You will need 3 things:  A writing implement, such as a pen or pencil, paper, and bad handwriting.  If it really matters, get a blank book, write it down in handwriting only you can read, and put that book in a safe place.  Even if your home is broken into, it will be difficult to decipher the information.  If the book is stolen, well, you know what was written down in there and exactly what was lost.  At least with your poor penmanship, a human will have to painstakingly decipher your chicken scratch.  You can also destroy the book in a fire and grind the ashes.  

If you must use a computer, DO NOT NETWORK THE COMPUTER.  DO NOT INSTALL A WIRELESS CARD.  Have a specific computer that will never be connected to the internet, ever.  Yes, very 1983, but what else can you  do?  DO NOT STORE SENSITIVE FILES ON A HARD DRIVE.  Keep all files, encrypted, on a device that can be easily destroyed.  Something like a micro-SD card.  Tiny enough to hide anywhere, small enough to be destroyed if the need arises.  A cross cut paper shredder will do.  Someone with enough time and money might be able to get information using a scanning electron microscope, then decrypting the data, but, seriously, what are you doing to deserve that kind of attention?

If these steps seem a little extreme, they are.   The paper/book based is my personal choice, and I have really bad handwriting.  It can never be hacked remotely and I don’t write anything down that is illegal anyway, just personal that I don’t want strangers to see.  Turns out that little diary or journal you kept as a kid is the most secure choice after all.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather
 

Posted by on March 28, 2017 in Computers, General Comments

Leave a comment