Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Wall St Recovery, What About The Rest Of Us?

So Wall St had a very good year, but then again, they got a massive amount of money from us, the US taxpayer. How much did they get? 12.2 Trillion Dollars. Now, most of that was supposed to "trickle down" to us, but very little actually did anything for Main St. Not to shabby a deal for wrecking the world's economy.

But what did we get? Well, by the same report, we got 1.8 trillion dollars which is not exactly nothing, but it's certainly almost an order of magnitude less than Wall St, and honestly, the trend here about who gets what is very distressing. The talk in DC is to reign in the deficit by cutting Social Security and Medicare. It looks like Wall St is going to pull off a double whammy - they've wiped out my home equity, crushed my pension, gutted my 401K, and now thery're going to take my Social Security and Medicare (and no, those are NOT entitlements, I've been paying for them my whole adult life.) And, there is more than a passing suspicion that even health care reform is nothing but a taxpayer bailout of failed financial companies.

Here's a couple more astute financial experts discussing our recovery - or lack of it:

So here's hoping that the US taxpayer gets a better deal next year than this year - because this year, we got screwed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Your Next PC Upgrade Is Free!

I've used many different computers and operating systems over the last twenty eight years of being an engineer. In fact, it's a bit embarrassing to admit to the new engineers I work with that my first programming languages were BASIC on a Data General Nova (PDP-8 clone) and Fortran on a CDC 6600. I currently support PCs and CNC controllers used in a large aerospace factory, mostly different versions of Windows, and have come to the conclusion that Windows is a PITA.

At home, I've got more leeway to select my own preferred PC and OS. I've been using various distributions of Linux since 1997 (see my review here in 1998 ) mostly Slackware, Red Hat (Fedora), and Ubuntu. But I still get to be a bit of a system admin at home since my wife is using Windows XP and my daughter is using Mac OS X Snow Leopard . Currently, I'm using a somewhat customized version of Ubuntu 9.04, and am looking at upgrading to 9.10.

I doubt most people have ever had to install or upgrade Windows since it's generally provided pre-installed. Well, recently, I had to install Windows - wow - what a PITA, much harder to install than Ubuntu! Now, this took me by surprise since I've been mostly installing and upgrading Linux at home and hadn't done a fresh installation of Windows in quite a while. (I have to admit, I do like Windows XP. It's our current standard at work, and it seems to be very stable and usable. We use a company standard network installed image at work whenever possible, so even at work, I had avoided a full up installation for quite some time.)

So, if you're going to buy a new PC, or have been looking at buying the next Windows upgrade, do yourself a favor and try Linux first. I'd recommend downloading and trying one of the "Boot from CDs" distributions so that you can try it out. Here's some links to the most popular distributions:


The CD images can take a while to download. Once you have a CD, try booting and using Linux so that you can check to ensure that all of you PC hardware (especially wireless) works properly. Honestly, Linux has reached the point where everything "just works" even more often then with Windows Vista or 7, and these distributions come with all the applications you will need to have a decent PC for browsing the Internet, at school, or for a home office, and it has had all the trick "Aero" graphics features for the last couple of years so you don't have to go out and buy a new PC or laptop just to get all the cool graphics effects. Plus, Linux is a bit more efficient with PC hardware, so your dog slow PC will run like new again.

Down The Bit Bucket

So this year I've resolved to publish my own rants, and with the able assistance of a host of posters, rants from others!

All more time and energy down the bit bucket!

Let the fun begin...