02 March 2011

Even longer break...

I did not realize that I had not posted anything since about a year ago. Not much has changed around here.

Business is still very slow. Still the same reason. We (Pat and I) did deploy an Untangle box at the Groesbeck Police Department. It has been working well for them. Pat has more work for me in the next couple of weeks.

I have been running an Untangle box here as well. It keeps me from going places I shouldn't go. I looked at my plan for the WISP and using an Untangle box instead of a Barracuda box would save me close to five grand. Something to think about.

My wife has been having health issues. It has put quite a strain on us. We are taking off for Florida next week. We have been members of the Disney Vacation Club for a number of years. So, our room is already paid for - we just have to get there...

22 April 2010

Long Hiatus

I have not posted anything in quite a while, primarily because of nothing of much significance happening. Here are some updates.

Business is slow. The primary reason is because no one is asking for my level of expertise in the local area. I also recently fired myself from a client. They had too many hands in the pot and I did not want to be in the middle.

I have been thinking about the WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider) idea again. The concept is simple. A filtered (i.e. no porn, gambling, or other vise related content) Internet connection. I have the design mostly done; I think I could make it work. I even have most of the business plan done. The big issue is getting the funds. I am not sure I want funds from Uncle Sam (i.e. ARRA – American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). I think the biggest hurdle is that I am unsure of the number of subscribers I can attract. I don’t think banks or charitable foundations would fund my project without knowing if it will succeed. And the key to success is having enough subscribers to cover the monthly costs and repay any debts incurred with the roll out. If anyone knows of a source of funds (without too many strings attached – I would love a grant), please let me know.

I am now a full time employee of Cornerstone Family Care, P.A. (I do the IT work and the Medicaid entry into the Texas system). I am probably the lowest paid full time IT person on the planet – but I will not go into that. But, I get to work from my office and can get things done without interruptions (unlike my wife who get interrupted constantly at the clinic and must bring things home in the evenings)

That is what is going on here. Kind of slow, but if I was busy I would be complaining about being busy…

27 January 2010

You should be upset...

Something that got my goat this morning. I was watching the news this morning before I headed to the office. They were taking about the administration moving the trials of KSM (and others) to the US Federal Court in NY City. They also mention the underwear bomber having his Miranda Rights read to him.

These two events should anger every American citizen. The administration is basically giving my (our) rights to foreign enemy combatants. This would be the same as me walking into a country club – without stopping at the desk and paying a fee to use the facilities and using the tennis courts. What about walking into gym and using the equipment without a membership.

Enemy combatants do not receive any such rights as to remain silent or to have an attorney present during questioning (Miranda Rights See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miranda_Rights#Typical_usage).

Unfortunately, the terrorist do not qualify as combatants. According to Wikipedia: “To qualify under the Third Geneva Convention, a combatant must have conducted military operations according to the laws and customs of war, be part of a chain of command, wear a "fixed distinctive marking, visible from a distance" and bear arms openly. Thus, uniforms and/or badges are important in determining prisoner-of-war status; and francs-tireurs, terrorists, saboteurs, mercenaries and spies do not qualify.” See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner_of_war#Hague_and_Geneva_Conventions

So what should we do with the people we are holding in Gitmo? They are not by definition EPWs (Enemy Prisoner of War), nor are they US Citizens with the rights and privileges that entails. I don’t have an answer. But, all I know is that they should not receive the same rights we have…

03 November 2009

Windows 7 - Where is it?

I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my daughter at the local outlet of the nation’s largest retailer (I will not mention the name – but you all know about the little company out of Arkansas). While we were waiting for her prescription to be ready at the pharmacy we decided to walk around – actually Katelyn could not sit still, so we HAD to get up and walk around.
While wandering the electronic area (yes, I’m a geek). I noticed that the display of four laptops. Of the four – two or three were labeled with “Windows 7”. But, something did not look right. I have had Windows 7 on hand since late January. So, I have seen the interface – very much like Vista with a few changes. And what they said was Windows 7 just did not look right. Being the geek that I am, I ran winver (Windows Version) and sure enough it was Windows Vista Home Premium – NOT Windows 7. How can W*****t display a “Windows 7” Laptop that is running Windows Vista? I am sure that someone from corporate sent signage to display and someone locally did what they were told and put the signage on the laptop that was already on the display. But still if you are going to label something – label it correctly.
I also saw a interesting product on the Windows 7 upgrade display. For about $120 you can get a single license upgrade to Windows 7 Home. They also had a “3 User Family Pack Upgrade” – three licenses in a single box for $30 more ($150). This gives the home user an opportunity to upgrade their multiple machines for a low per machine price ($30 each). This is for a limited time, but it is an awesome idea. This is much like the Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007 (which cost $150 – less than half the cost of Microsoft Office 2007 Standard), which is a license to install Office Home & Student on three PCs. Which means a family that has 3 computers at home (like me – I have more at the office) can upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium and install Office Home & Student 2007 on ALL of their machines for $60 each. Fantastic!
Microsoft Office for Home & Students 2007 is a great buy. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. OneNote is of interest because it is a great way to get and stay organized. You create notebooks and pages for organizing information. You can print to the notebooks, add web pages, sound files, and graphics (photos and illustrations). I just think it is cool. Lots of templates are available to create special project notebooks.
So, kudos to Microsoft for not being the greedy, money grubbing giant we have come love and hate. And anti-kudos for W****** for displaying Windows Vista machines as Windows 7 machines.
James W. McKeand
The Microsoft name and its other product names are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.

30 October 2009

What would I do with this?

I have been spending some time looking at some robotics. Mosty from a hobbiest point of view. I ran into something cool on a blog called: Liquidware Antipasto

It is talking about modules that communicate with each other to share code. The code basically changes the color of a blinking LED. It is cool to watch the code move from module to module - changing the color of the LED as it moves.

I don't know how I would use this tech, but it looks cool. The modules are availile from http://www.liquidware.com/

James W. McKeand

21 October 2009

What is a peer?

In my last post I stated that a peer suggested I look into blogging for business promotion. I got griped at by probably my best friend for calling him a peer. "I thought we were friends..." he said.

My friend is Pat Lloyd, he runs one of the other IT firms here in Mexia, TX. (I am still not sure why we have 5 or 6 IT firms in a town of 10,000, but we do.) We have a lot in common. We have our niches - I handle servers and network infrastructure - he handles the client end (he also covers home users and I concentrate on businesses).

Pat and I eat lunch together once or twice a week. We talk about issues in town, our families, and what we run into at client sites. We bounce ideas off one another. We even call each other into help out at our respective clients.

James W. McKeand

19 October 2009

First Post

A peer suggested I look into blogging to get my name out there and attract attention to my business. I debated the good and bad about blogging, I hope my addictive side does not kick in, causing me to get sucked in to spending too much time on this. I spend much of my day surfing the web looking for solutions to my clients problems. I run into some pretty interesting technologies. I will be putting these on this blog.

So, this is my first post on my new blog.

The current hot topic for my clients is Web Filtering. Many of the businesses I work with want to limit their employee’s Internet access. I know there has been studies that show that employees that are allowed some freedom with respect to “personal” internet surfing at work are more productive. This is true that taking a 10 to 15 minute break to clear their head does lead to better productivity. But, I think there are exceptions to this improved productivity. The reality is that a person with unlimited access to the Internet AND an addictive personality can easily be sucked into shopping sites, streaming video and audio sites. It is these “exceptions” that cause the problems for employers.

The loss of productivity is not limited to the single employee that is catching up on the TV shows they missed last night. You add the guy in the warehouse that is streaming internet radio because the metal roof of the warehouse blocks FM and AM radio signals, plus the HR director that is watching a preview of a harassment video – and you have a problem. The problem is the loss of bandwidth that all of the users are supposed to be sharing.

The solution I am looking into is Untangle this can be found at http://www.untangle.com. They have free and pay products. One of their technologies that looks rather interesting is their “Untangle for Windows”. It runs in a virtual PC on a Windows PC. The VM engine in Sun’s VirtualBox. The only downside I can see is that smart switches can/will break their “Re-Router Technology”. I cannot comment further – I have a smart switch here at the office, so the “Re-Router” will not function. I am quite interested in getting this running – maybe at home.  Here is the quick start for “Untangle for Windows”: http://wiki.untangle.com/index.php/Quick_Install_Guide:_Untangle_for_Windows

The “normal” install of Untangle Server is on a separate box – this will wipe the hard drive of the box. You can deploy the server in either a transparent bridge or as a router/firewall. I think Untangle is running on a hardened Linux Kernel. The user interface is quite unique. You populate a rack with the software appliances you want – Firewall, Web filter, Spam filter, WAN failover, and etc. You can turn on and off the soft-appliances as needed. Take a look at the screen shots and demo videos: http://www.untangle.com/Demos-Screenshots

Well that is it for my first blog entry. Ya’ll have a good one…

James W. McKeand